Open Your Bible
Genesis 37:1-13, Genesis 37:18-28, Acts 7:9-16, Genesis 50:15-21
Sibling relationships are tough. For the entirety of my childhood, I skittered around my older sisters’ bedrooms, pilfering makeup, borrowing clothes, and denying that I’d done anything of the sort. We tattled on each other constantly. And when one of my sisters finally got her driver’s license, she was annoyed to discover that meant she would have to drive me to school every day. I wanted my sisters to like me, and yet try as I might, I was always a little bit annoying.
Joseph was a little annoying too. Scripture tells us he had a habit of tattling on his brothers (Genesis 37:2). And later, when he had vivid dreams of his future glory, he didn’t tuck those dreams away to contemplate in private. Instead, he went on blabbing them to everyone! Even his father got a little tired of 17-year-old Joseph’s big head (v.10).
Joseph’s story is the very last story in Genesis. It’s a hard story, one of sibling rivalry and deceit and near-murder. After all, when his brothers sold him into slavery, they had no idea how Joseph would fare in the hands of his captors. Would he survive? Did they care?
Though today’s assigned Scripture gives the bookended view of Joseph’s story, it’s worth taking time to read what happened in between. In the years after his brothers sold Joseph into slavery, he was sold again, accused of rape, and then thrown into prison, where he festered for more than two years. When Pharaoh finally summoned Joseph from the dungeon to interpret his terrifying dreams (Genesis 41), Joseph’s own dreams could have easily faded into nothing in his memory. Where was the God who had promised to give him power and influence?
The truth is, Joseph’s life was far worse and far better than what he’d seen in those dreams. God had a plan for him, but that plan included much suffering. That plan included brothers that plotted evil against him. It included time in a dungeon. It included trembling before a king that could have killed him on sight. And it included rising to a position of power that ultimately saved his entire family—and the region—from starvation. What they planned for evil, God used for good (Genesis 50:20).
Because we have the rest of Scripture, we know that Joseph’s role in the redemption of the world was only the beginning. After all, that large family that arrived in Egypt to escape starvation ultimately became the nation of slaves at the beginning of Exodus—the ones crying out for a savior. There was more suffering to come. And more saving.
Joseph’s life was central to God’s plan for the world. But just because we’re living out God’s plan for our life doesn’t mean there won’t be pain. We can rest assured that even what others plan for evil, God can use for good.