It is not easy to understand, but it was part of God’s plan that Joseph end up in shackles, in slavery, and ultimately in jail. It may be part of God’s plan that you go through some difficult, confusing times as well.
He called down famine on the land
and destroyed all their supplies of food;
17 and he sent a man before them—
Joseph, sold as a slave.
18 They bruised his feet with shackles,
his neck was put in irons,
19 till what he foretold came to pass,
till the word of the Lord proved him true.
The story of Joseph and his coat of many colors is well-known. Just ask Donny Osmond about his Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.
A quick recap, Joseph was well-loved by his father, and in fact was the favorite of all the sons. The beautiful robe was a gift from his father.
Joseph had a few different dreams that he shared with his brothers. Basically he dreamed that his brothers gathered around and bowed down to him. The brothers already disliked him, since he was the favorite son, and as you might expect, these dreams made them even more upset. At the time, no one realized that the dreams were from God and actually letting them know of an event that would happen in the future.
One day their father set Joseph to check on his brothers as they were taking care of the sheep. His brothers conspired to kill him, but decided instead to sell him as a slave to a group of passing Ishmaelites.
If you were to ask Joseph at this time what God’s plan was for his life, I am sure being sold into slavery would not be the first thing that came to his mind. From his dreams he may have had an idea that he was destined for greatness, but those dreams would have been quickly crushed as he was bound in chains and dragged away.
God did in fact bless Joseph and made him to prosper, even in his slavery.
Genesis 39:2-4 The Lord was with Joseph so that he prospered, and he lived in the house of his Egyptian master. When his master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord gave him success in everything he did, Joseph found favor in his eyes and became his attendant.
Not exactly the way I would imaging God’s plan would come together, but God was with Joseph, even in is bad circumstances. As if his situation was not bad enough, it took a turn for the worse when his master’s wife set him up. Joseph ended up in prison. Once again, where is God in the situation? From shackles to slavery to jail. It would seem hard to find God in that situation.
God continued to be with Joseph, and helped him interpret dreams and he was actually promoted within the prison to an assistant to the guard. He was eventually brought out of prison to interpret a dream for Pharaoh himself. Not only was he released from prison, but he was elevated to second in command of Egypt. That put him in a position to help his brothers when a severe famine hit. His brothers came before him, and did not recognize him. They wanted to buy food, so the family would not starve. Joseph’s words to his brothers jumped out at me.
Genesis 45:5,7 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. But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance.
God sent him into slavery? God sent him to jail? Well, that was so God could promote him to Pharaoh’s assistant, to put him in a place to save his family. I have no idea how Joseph could see God with his hands and feet in chains. Where was God when he was wrongly accused and sent to jail for several years?
The path God set in front of Joseph was not an easy one. God’s plan for us isn’t always easy. And it would not be hard to think God turned his back on him, multiple times. But that was all part of God’s plan to put him in place to save his family, and actually save all the people of Egypt.
Maybe you are like me. I do sometimes wonder where God is. The story of Joseph does give me hope though. A story with difficult circumstances, that I would imagine many of us can relate to. But it is also a story of God’s faithfulness. He has a plan for me. It may seem like my story is over since I am ‘in jail’. That is not the full story though. The story continues, and not only was Joseph released from prison, he was promoted, and not only that, he saved a nation. I don’t know what my future holds, but I can be sure that God is still in control. It may not seem like it now, but there are great things in store ahead. I may not understand my circumstances, but I can know that–just like Joseph said, “God sent me”.
Where are you in your journey? In chains? In slavery? In jail? Rescued from jail? How do you deal with the circumstances when it seems like God is not around? When it feels like he may have abandoned you?