July 24, 2012
“Then Joseph could no longer control himself before all his attendants, and he cried out, “Have everyone leave my presence!” So there was no one with Joseph when he made himself known to his brothers. And he wept so loudly that the Egyptians heard him, and Pharaoh’s household heard about it.
Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph! Is my father still living?” But his brothers were not able to answer him, because they were terrified at his presence.
Then Joseph said to his brothers, “Come close to me.” When they had done so, he said, “I am your brother Joseph, the one you sold into Egypt! And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you. For two years now there has been famine in the land, and for the next five years there will not be plowing and reaping. But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance.
“So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God. He made me father to Pharaoh, lord of his entire household and ruler of all Egypt.” — Genesis 45:1-8 (NIV)
When something unpleasant happens, we wish things were different. Some may call it bad luck or injustice. It’s normal that there will be all kinds of reactions.
For Christians, the greater concern must not be what people think and how they react, but how they see God in these situations.
The story of Joseph immediately comes to mind. You may enjoy reading the full story in Genesis 37-44. From a young age, he had been hated by his brothers. Perhaps showing off that colourful coat his father gave him made them jealous? Could it also be his dreams of sheaves, sun, moon and eleven stars bowing down to him that contributed to their anger?
Whatever the reason, Joseph was disliked. His life was bitter-sweet.
First, he was thrown into a pit and then sold to an Egyptian general. But there, the Lord prospered him. The general?s wife tried to seduce him but when Joseph tried to run, she accused him of molesting her. That landed him in prison. While in prison, he met two prisoners — the king’s cupbearer and baker. Joseph interpreted their dreams, which were fulfilled.
The cupbearer, who was restored to his position, only remembered about Joseph and his ability when Pharaoh, the king, had a dream that no one could interpret. He told Pharaoh about Joseph.
Joseph was brought before Pharaoh and he was so pleased with the interpretation that he made Joseph second-in-command, after himself.
The first dream promised seven years of abundant crops. When that was fulfilled, Joseph built store houses to keep grain, because the second dream warned of seven years of drought and famine.
During the time of drought and famine, Joseph?s father, Jacob, sent his other sons to Egypt in search of grain. They met Joseph but did not recognize him. After some time, Joseph revealed his true identity.
Between tears, Joseph spoke of God?s sovereignty over their lives. He said to them “…do not be grieved or angry with yourselves, because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life…it was not you who sent me here, but God…”
Just like how God was in full control of Joseph?s life, He is in full control of our lives even when we experience injustice and difficulty. It’s not a matter of luck. God has placed you where you are and allowed the hardship for a purpose.
For Joseph it was to provide food for his family. It is for you to discover why God placed you here.
Perhaps you are asking, “Why am I here?” Don?t be angry with yourselves or God when you face bitter-sweet events. Know that when you have committed your life to God, He is in charge and He placed you there.
Thought For The Week (TFTW) is contributed by Dr Koh Siang Kiang, Associate Professor (Christian Education) at the Singapore Bible College (SBC). She graduated from SBC and Dallas Theological Seminary (DTS), USA, and has served in various ministries for more than 35 years, including teaching at DTS. Dr Koh has been with SBC for the last 10 years, and has a passion for people and teaching the Word of God. She also loves to make the Bible come alive by leading tours to the Holy Land, and has led 12 such trips. To help her relax, Dr Koh likes to cook and cross-stitch.