It’s time for a sob story. Are you ready?
So… there was this guy.
His name was Joseph. He was one of twelve sons, and he happened to be his father’s favourite. This was made apparent by the fact that his father made an “ornate” robe, and out of all the brothers, he gave it to Joseph.
Doesn’t sound like such a bad life, huh? But the thing is, this favouritism caused Joseph’s brothers to envy and hate him. And to add fuel to the fire, one night Joseph had a vision where basically a bunch of grain sheaves representing his brothers bowed down to him. He told his brothers about this dream, and of course they hated him more. He had another similar dream, where this time his father and mother also bowed down to him, and cocky ol’ Joseph told his family about this one too.
This all stirred up so much hatred in the hearts of Joseph’s brothers that they wanted to kill him. But they decided they wouldn’t gain much from that, so they sold him to some passing merchants instead and told their father that Joseph was dead.
Imagine that. Not just that your brothers hate you so much that they sell you to the first people who pass by, but I mean, being sold? Leaving everything you’ve known and having no idea what’s going to happen next?
That sounds terrifying.
But Genesis 39:2 says that “The Lord was with Joseph so that he prospered.” In Egypt, he was bought from the merchants by Pharaoh’s captain of the guard, a man named Potiphar. There, Joseph found favour in Potiphar’s eyes and became head of the household.
But Joseph’s hardships weren’t over yet.
Joseph was a good-looking guy (this is not the difficult part), and Potiphar’s wife decided she wanted to sleep with him. He refused, and in fact he was so set on fleeing temptation that when she grabbed his cloak, he left it in her hands and literally ran out of the house (v.12). After that, she lied about him and told Potiphar that Joseph had been the one who tried to sleep with her, and he was thrown into jail.
But yet again, when it seems like all hope is lost, we see the presence of God. Verse 21 says, “the Lord was with [Joseph]; he showed him kindness and granted him favour in the eyes of the prison warden.”
In jail, of all places, God made Joseph successful. Joseph was put in charge of everything in the prison, and “the Lord was with Joseph and gave him success in whatever he did” (v.23). If he can do that, then how much more can he bless our everyday lives?
Now this isn’t the end of the story.
Joseph was successful, yes, but prison is not a very ideal place. Well, along came these two new prisoners, a cupbearer and a baker. They were both servants of the Pharaoh who had angered him in some way.
They each had a dream, which Joseph correctly interpreted. As he did so, he asked only that they remember him when released from prison. Three days later, both prisoners were released. The baker was killed, but the cupbearer went on his merry way… and forgot about Joseph, who spent two more years as a prisoner.
In this time, Joseph was essentially a forgotten man.
But God never forgets. He remembered Joseph’s existence. And God is enough, because guess what happened next?
One day Pharaoh had a dream that nobody could interpret, and the cupbearer finally remembered his prison pal. Genesis 41:16 says that when brought before Pharaoh, Joseph told him, “I cannot do it… but God will give Pharaoh the answer he desires.”
Wow. Where is the insolence and swagger of Joseph’s youth?
The boy who bragged about God’s visions of his family bowing to him is no more. His old self has been replaced with humility, and a full reliance on God. Those years of hard times and suffering weren’t for nothing. Through it all, God was shaping Joseph into a man of wisdom.
And now finally, finally, it all pays off. Check this out.
Joseph told Pharaoh the meaning of his dream (there was going to be a famine), and he even came up with a plan to deal with it.
Genesis 41:37-38 says, “The plan seemed good to Pharaoh and to all his officials. So Pharaoh asked them, ‘Can we find anyone like this man, one in whom is the spirit of God?’” Pharaoh recognized that there was no one as “discerning” and “wise” as Joseph, and he put Joseph in charge of his whole empire (v.39-40).
And that’s the story. Not just of a spoiled brat who overcame the odds and ended up on top, but of a God who always sees you, never leaves you, and has blessings for you in the end. Joseph learned that while God might not save you from hardships, he can redeem anything.
A speaker I heard once said that in times of distress, we often ask God to take us out of the situation, or to take the situation away entirely. But what our prayer should be is to ask God to enlarge us, to help us overcome the situation and navigate through the struggles we are facing. Because when we come out, it will be with a stronger faith and greater wisdom.
When the trials and tribulations seem like too much to face, act with the same mixture of humility and confidence that Joseph did and say with faith, “I can’t… but God can and will.”
The struggle will be real in this life. But Jesus has overcome the grave, and God is with us wherever we go.
Kaylan is a seventeen-year-old creator of music, obsessor-over-aesthetics, and pursuer of Christ. Her goal for the future is to become an English teacher and to inspire others to live for Jesus. When she’s not writing, you can find her reading, Instagramming (@kaylan_m), blogging, or drinking milk tea with her friends. She blogs about her passion for God at no2paths.com.