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I want you to imagine Joseph’s daily life at the end of this week’s chapters. He is a married man with two children (that we know of), and he is living the high life next to Pharaoh. The life of Pharaoh is pretty fantastic, and I imagine that it’s not so bad for Joseph either. Egyptians lived relatively well in comparison to the rest of the world, and Pharaoh lived the “best” life of all of them. Joseph probably lives in a grand house, and we know that he holds high honors and performs important work. He is appreciated for how he saved the country from disaster, and he is fully trusted.
I imagine that he looks back on his life and feels full. Despite the ups and downs, I wonder if he feels amazed at how the Lord orchestrated everything.
In fact, Joseph does give a little bit of insight into how he feels.
50 And unto Joseph were born two sons before the years of famine came, which Asenath the daughter of Poti-pherah priest of On bare unto him.
51 And Joseph called the name of the firstborn Manasseh: For God, said he, hath made me forget all my toil, and all my father’s house.
52 And the name of the second called he Ephraim: For God hath caused me to be fruitful in the land of my affliction.
Joseph recognized how the Lord had blessed him and chose to name his sons accordingly.
We know that Joseph remained true to God despite the many trials he passed through. We know that he stayed positive and made the best of his situations and helped others. Even though I know this about Joseph’s character, I don’t know that Joseph would have chosen that life for himself in the beginning.
I imagine seventeen year old Joseph sitting in that pit below his brothers. If given a choice, I don’t think he would have chosen to leave his family and dear father. He would have never left to serve (let alone be a slave to) people who believed very differently than him. He wouldn’t have chosen to give up the birthright that had been bestowed upon him; he would have stayed put, and he would have gladly looked forward to taking care of his family as his parents aged. If he had been plucked out of that pit and asked about which path he desired to take, he would have chosen to stay home and lead his family. After all, the Lord had given him all those dreams about leading his family…
When Potiphar’s wife accused him of attempting to hurt her, I don’t think he would have willingly gone to that prison. Even if he had randomly found himself visiting the prison and interpreting the dreams from the butler and baker, I don’t believe that he would have asked the butler to remember him. He already had a great life with Potiphar; why would he need the butler to remember him?
If given a choice, I don’t believe that he would have chosen to remain in prison for a long time after the butler was released. If the butler had left and immediately brought Joseph’s issue to the attention of powerful people, and if Joseph had been released the next day, I imagine that Joseph would have fallen to his knees and thanked the Lord with deep gratitude and humility for his deliverance.
However…when the dramatic conclusion came to pass and as he stood next to Pharaoh, drawing up plans to save an entire people from starvation, I wonder if he simultaneously found himself in awe at the perfect timing of his life. I wonder if he ever found tears in his eyes as he watched his children play in a safe environment. I wonder if he grew to love the Egyptians despite their lack of belief in the true God, and I wonder if he thanked the Lord for helping him save them.
What can we learn from Joseph’s crystal-clear hindsight?
The trials you face
Joseph had dreams about his life when he was just seventeen. He knew he would lead his family. The Lord had told him that he would lead his family. He had expectations for how things would play out. His father would grow old and infirm, and Joseph would take over the responsibilities of leading.
If Joseph had been given a choice at each crossroad in his life, he would have chosen differently, and he would have chosen differently because he was trying to follow the Lord. Of course he would want to stay with his family, to follow the dreams he had been given, to lead and remain close to the covenant people.
I wonder how things would have played out if Joseph would have seen everything at the beginning. If Joseph had received a vision of his life while he was sitting in that pit, and if he had been given a choice whether he wanted to follow that road, I imagine that he would have taken it with humility. Honestly, I think he would have taken that road with more than just humility; I imagine he would have taken it with gratitude and awe at the Lord’s wisdom.
So what does this mean for you? It’s really quite simple.
If you could see your ending, you would voluntarily choose to pass through the trials you are in the midst of. If you received a vision of the twisting turns, ups and downs, lessons and heartbreaks and triumphs, I believe that you would desire the path that the Lord desires for you. You wouldn’t want a different path.
I imagine there were moments when Joseph was very confused. The Lord had chosen him to lead his brothers. Had he done something wrong? Had the Lord decided he shouldn’t have the birthright? I imagine there were moments where he missed where he had come from. I imagine there were moments where he pleaded for an early deliverance (though he didn’t know it was “early”). I imagine there were times when he chose to be content with the path that God had led him on, and yet, he still found himself yearning to know where he would end up. I imagine that he was willing to follow the Lord…he simply wished he could just know how long the hard times would last.
I imagine you’ve had moments of confusion about why God closed one door and opened another. I imagine you’ve wondered if you incurred His displeasure. I wonder if you have second-guessed revelation you have received because it looks different than you thought it would. I imagine you’ve pleaded for deliverance, that you feel you have grown and held on long enough. I imagine there are times where you have accepted the Lord’s will but still yearned to know where the path would eventually take you. If you could simply know where it would end, you could endure anything.
I imagine you’ve had these moments because I’ve had these moments. It is so hard to be given one step at a time with lots of waiting in between.
But, dear friend, if you could see your end, you would choose this path you are on.
A Plan for Salvation for each of us
There is no way to overemphasize the Lord’s wisdom in Joseph’s life. From Middianites to Potiphar. From Potiphar’s wife to favored prisoner. I try to imagine how the Lord orchestrated getting the butler and baker into prison, and how the butler just happened to forget a miraculous prophecy until the perfect moment. I can’t get over the fact that none (zero, zip, nada) of the Pharoah’s wise men could give him any kind of made-up interpretation of his dream. There are just too many moving parts and details. How else could God get a Hebrew into Pharaoh’s court? How else could the Lord have simultaneously made Joseph ruler over his brethren and softened their hearts towards him?
I wonder if there were moments of weakness and resentment for Joseph. Maybe not. Maybe he is the near-perfect paradigm of positivity we read about. Maybe I just like to imagine that he had hard moments too because it makes me feel better…regardless of whether he had his dark moments, I’ve definitely had mine. I’ve had moments where I wanted to give and go home (specifically on my mission). I’ve had moments where I told Heavenly Father that I had hit my goodness limit, and He should not expect any more goodness from me ever. I’ve had moments where I told Him that His tests and development processes were too much. Perhaps they were necessary for the kingdom of heaven, but I certainly wasn’t going to be able to pass them.
Right in this specific moment, as I sit in relative peace, in a time where I don’t feel like I’m failing everything, and I’m in a good place…right now, I can see how all of those dark moments and tests and development processes were my Plan of Salvation despite my resentment of them. I’m sure I will have more dark moments and dramatic sighs and temporary forfeits before I have more moments of clarity where the Lord shows me that those were the times I so desperately needed.
In literature, there is something known as dramatic irony. Dramatic irony is when the reader knows something that a character does not know. For example, when we read about Joseph’s life for the millionth time, we know how the Lord’s hand is guiding him even if he didn’t know it in the moment.
Someday, you will have an opportunity to read over your life, and you will experience an essence of dramatic irony. You will praise the Lord for the dark moments that were your vital stepping stones into the life you hold at the end. You will be speechless over His wisdom and tender care in your life. You will find yourself in tears for that young soul you were, struggling amidst mortal unfairness and darkness, and you will wish you could have cheered yourself on during those moments. You will wish you could have helped your spiritually-young self understand how much you needed those dark moments.
I testify of a Lord who purposefully brings goodness and miracles into your life. I testify that sometimes the trials are the miracles you’re so desperately asking for. Trust the Lord with your life. If you let Him, He will write a story that is rich and wonderful and terrible and awe-inspiring. He will turn you into the most lovable protagonist imaginable with all the best character development and redemptive arcs. Appreciate your dark moments for what they will become.