The other Joseph
Joseph was sitting in his usual place at the back of the church. He was listening intently. He wasnít always so attentive but today he had heard his own name mentioned and just had to find out if this Joseph the preacher was talking about was anything like him.
He discovered that this other Joseph, when a boy, had not been very popular with his brothers. Even though he was his favourite son, his father was not too pleased with him at times. Then his brothers got really upset with him and decided to kill him. However, instead they sold him to some Egyptians and he became the slave of a wealthy man.
Wow, Joseph thought, Iím not so unfortunate as that. At least I am not a slave, even though my father hated me and sent me away from home. Today I am a free man. I have a job and get well paid for doing it.
He listened some more. Apparently Joseph did very well as a slave and was given a lot of responsibility by his master. However a woman came into the picture and Joseph had to flee in order to keep himself from sexual sin. He was falsely accused and ended up in prison.
That wasnít fair, Joseph said to himself. He didnít deserve any of that. He believed in God, so why didnít God save him? I donít think I could trust God if that happened to me.
Then he remembered he had been severely tempted once by a girlfriend and had only escaped when a friend had phoned him in urgent need of help. Had God delivered him? He had never thought about that before.
He had been in prison too, just for 24 hours. That was because of mistaken identity, but it had made him very bitter toward the police.
He dragged his mind back to what the preacher was saying. It seemed that this Joseph was able to interpret dreams and eventually interpreted a dream the ruler of Egypt had had and which none of his wise men could explain. The consequence of it all was that Joseph was taken out of prison and put in charge of the countryís finances and when severe famine came there was food for all. He became next in importance to the king!
One day Josephís brothers had arrived from a far country to purchase food. They did not know the man in charge was their brother Joseph, but eventually he revealed himself to them. Then they were afraid. What would he do to them?
I think I would have put them in prison, Joseph said to himself. They didnít deserve anything better.
The preacher was continuing with his message. Joseph forgave his brothers, sent them to get his father and provided for all of them in the land of Egypt.
However, when the father died the brothers were afraid of what Joseph might do to them. They went to him and sought his forgiveness and offered to be his servants. Joseph then showed his faith in God. He told his brothers that although what they had done to him was bad God had turned it to good. Through it all God had saved many people, including his family. The Bible says Joseph comforted his brothers and spoke kindly to them.
The preacher then challenged the congregation to look at their circumstances and see what God was doing in their lives. Bad things do happen, he said, but God can turn them to good. Perhaps there is someone in the congregation who needs to be forgiving and to trust God for the consequences.
Joseph listened. He thought of his own life. He remembered how his father had treated him badly and turned him out. But having to leave home had given him opportunities he would not otherwise have had. Had God meant it for good? If so should he now go home and forgive his father. He had a lot to think about.
He did not hear the end of the sermon. God had spoken to him and he knew he had to do something in response. This other Joseph was truly an example to follow.
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