One of my favorite O.T. characters is a man named Joseph, the great grand-son of the Jewish patriarch, Abraham. All who read my writings all familiar with this faith-filled man and his story so I will just take up in chapter 45 which I was reading this morning during my quiet time with the Lord. In this chapter, Joseph, now in authority in the land of Egypt, is about to reveal himself to his brothers, those same brothers who had sold him at the age of seventeen into the hands of the Ishmeelites for twenty pieces of silver and then lied to their father about his whereabouts who had no doubt mourned every day since. That is one of the saddest parts of this story to me that as those ten boys saw their daddy sad every day that none would open up and tell him the truth, that maybe his beloved son was still alive.
Probably in chapter 45, Joseph must be now close to forty years of age. He was thirty when Pharoah placed him in charge of managing the years of plenty to prepare for the years of famine and it's after the seven years of plenty when the famine begins that the brothers show up to buy some food as they have heard that Egypt has enough to sell. We tend to read the chapters of Genesis in the life of Joseph and forget that those years were long- we may can read about them in minutes- but Joseph lived every one of them day by day and minute by minute. Let me share with you two truths, although there are many, that I see in his life that I asked God this morning to make a part of mine. After all, that is what Bible reading and meditation is all about- not so we can mark that chapter off on our daily Bible-reading plan but that the truths sink down into our hearts and change us. Joseph had experienced betrayal and lies and hate and estrangement from his homeland and his family for around twenty years through no fault of his own and I love his transparency that he reveals in this chapter. I don't know how many tears Joseph has cried since that day out in the field when his brothers cast him into a pit but here, he cannot control himself as he tells his brothers- "I am Joseph whom you sold into Egypt." The Bible says that all the Egyptians and Pharoah's household heard him as he cried. Saints, transparency and tears are okay! We tend to think that we may look less than super spiritual if we admit to others that we just are not on top of our game right now. Coming to terms with that does not mean we don't trust God- it means we are human and people relate to that. Joseph's question of "is my father still alive?" brought tears to my eyes this morning as I sense his love and tenderness toward a man that he has missed for many years.
Trials, especially long ones, tend to strip the veneer of self-confidence away. We learn to get" over ourselves" in today's vernacular. Now, it isn't so much about what others think about me but how my life is affecting how they think about God and there is my second point. In all of Joseph's pain and denial, he has trusted God and those observing have noticed that. The Scripture repeats several times concerning this young man that God was with him and Joseph knew that God was with him. The brothers, rightfully so, are scared to death but Joseph said- "God sent me here..". Child of God, I don't know what your struggle is today but I know that God is with you and there is a purpose for the pain. One day last year I was reading my Joni devotional book and physically was not well as I was doing so. Joni was writing about the sovereignty of God and made the statement that God was sovereign over diseases, one of which she referenced was Lyme Disease. Now, of all the many, many diseases that she could have mentioned, there it was before me in print and I felt that God led me to that page on that particular day to remind me that nothing takes Him by surprise just as Joseph assured his quaking in their sandals' brothers- "God sent me here!" When Joseph's daddy dies after their reunion and seventeen years together (that is interesting to me), the brothers are afraid again that now that Daddy is gone, Joseph will give them their just due. He again repeats this phrase- " Fear not: for am I in the place of God? As for you, you thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive." Again, note the assurance of purpose in pain.
Saints, as we grow in the Lord and go forth in this fast-fleeing journey, may our trust in a loving Heavenly Father flourish. A verse written by Bill and Gloria Gaither comes to mind this morning- "We've come this far by faith, leaning on the Lord, trusting in His Holy Word, HE'S NEVER FAILED US YET!. We've come this far by faith." Amen!
"For we walk by faith and not by sight!"