“Discovering” truth in a familiar story

discovering

Joseph. He was the beloved and (blatantly) favored son, who was hated by his brothers, sold into slavery, imprisoned for a crime he did not commit, and ultimately became the second most powerful man in ancient Egypt. An additional detail of Joseph’s story is his God given ability to interpret dreams. This ability was the vehicle God used, in line with His purpose and timing, to position Joseph so that he could save life and preserve the family of Israel .

I have known this story known since childhood and recently read again the part of the story in which Joseph interpreted Pharaoh’s two dreams. You can read the full account of the dreams in the 41st chapter of Genesis but I will share the interpretation here.

“Listen very carefully: seven years of great abundance will come throughout all the land of Egypt; but afterward seven years of famine and hunger will come, and [there will be such desperate need that] all the great abundance [of the previous years] will be forgotten in the land of Egypt [as if it never happened], and famine and destitution will ravage and destroy the land. 31 So the great abundance will become forgotten in the land because of that subsequent famine, for it will be very severe.(Genesis 41:29-31, AMP)

As previously stated, I have known this story since childhood but it was in the recent reading of Joseph’s story that I “discovered” something new. Or should I say, my eyes were opened to a truth that was always there?  This is what I “discovered” – Sometimes the ugly and hard experiences of life can eradicate the evidence and memory of the beautiful and good in our lives. But God has a plan for all seasons of our lives and, as articulated in the well known and oft quoted verse, Jeremiah 29:11, His plan is for our well-being and not for calamity, to give us a future and a hope. Our ability to trust His plan, however, rests on our knowledge of the unchanging nature of His character.

In the seasons of abundance, “the good seasons,” He gives the provision which prepares us to survive in the difficult times when loss and scarcity abound. We need His wisdom and guidance so that we do not squander during times of abundance that which is designed to sustain us in difficult times. In addition, we can be sure that He is also with us in difficult times and, like He did for Joseph when he was a slave in Potiphar’s house and again when he was in prison, God enables us to thrive in difficult seasons and also help 0thers. Seasons change but God remains the same.

Joseph

Beginning on Christmas Day, I watched The Nativity Story:The Journey of a Lifetime, a Story for all Time, in its entirety and then watched various scenes again, several times. And  I am seeing Joseph as I have not before. I see his compassion which was demonstrated before he knew the truth about the conception of the Child Mary carried. I see he must have had a heart that was tender toward God. Unlike Zacharias, who initially doubted the word spoken to him in person by Gabriel, Joseph believed the word spoken to him in a dream. I am thinking of his total obedience and how his reputation was likely forever damaged in his community but he had the applause of heaven.

The Bible tells us that Mary was highly favored but I believe Joseph was favored also. He was trusted by God with a task that few other men would have accepted, much more executed as he did. Trusted to protect and provide for Mary and the Word made flesh. He knew in the most intimate manner what others would later discover – the long awaited Messiah had come. God had kept the promise He made. Also, if the birth scene in this movie is an accurate depiction of what occurred, in helping to deliver Jesus, Joseph was given a  gift that no one else ever received – He was the first to see God in human flesh and the first to hold Him. Joseph. One of the lessons of his life is – obeying God may result in loss, heartache, struggle, and pain but obeying God is always worth the cost and is always rewarded by God.