How Joseph Served His Community

Now when they [his brothers] saw him afar off, even before he came near them, they conspired against him to kill him. 19Then they said to one another, “Look, this dreamer is coming! 20Come therefore, let us now kill him and cast him into some pit; and we shall say, ‘Some wild beast has devoured him.’ We shall see what will become of his dreams!”

Genesis 37:18-20 NKJV

Take the time to read the entire chapter 37 of Genesis. This is only a snippet of the life of Joseph. Imagine someone in the distant corner of your life, plotting your downfall or even death because you are full of dreams and have imagination. If you knew this ahead of time, it could possibly deter you from trying to do good to others, regardless of who it is.

Such is the life of Joseph. His own brothers conspired to kill him. At the end of this chapter, we see that Joseph had been beaten, bound, and was heading to a land he did not know. Joseph, the beloved son of Jacob, was now a slave. Could this new terrifying life have any upside for Joseph? You may have been through some trying times in life that may have caused you to wonder whether any good could come out of the situation, the hurt, the pain, or the loss.

Jacob’s favoritism for Joseph made him the target of his brothers’ hatred, so they sold him into slavery at 17 years old. Relocated to a foreign country and cut off from his family, it was natural for Joseph to think God had abandoned him. Instead, he immersed himself in his work and built relationships with the people around him. He had numerous difficulties in Egypt, but he persevered.

Joseph took the time to learn the culture of his new home, which allowed the people there to accept him. Because he was a hard worker, the people respected him. However, the Lord was with Joseph, so he succeeded in everything (Genesis 39:2 NKJV). Eventually, Joseph earned the favor of Pharaoh, the King of Egypt, who put him in charge of the entire land. Joseph was second in command, only behind the king himself. Not bad for an Israelite kid who had been sold into slavery.

Pharaoh gave Joseph a wife who bore Joseph two sons: Manasseh, “God has made me forget all my troubles and everyone in my father’s family,” and Ephraim, “God has made me fruitful in this land of my grief” (Genesis 41:52 NKJV).

Joseph’s leadership role came because he kept his heart right, and God graced him with the ability to interpret dreams. His gifted ability caused him to be released from prison to interpret Pharaoh’s dream, and ultimately Joseph saves the people from starving.

God is in the details. Joseph’s life in many ways played out precisely the way God intended for it, hardships and all. Joseph reconciled with his brothers and brought their families to live in Egypt during the famine. This all happened because Joseph submitted himself to God’s plan and embraced the new life, culture, and community to which God called him.

God is never the source of evil towards us, but He can take that evil and use it for good. In fact, Joseph says to his brothers in Genesis 50:20 CEV, “You tried to harm me, but God made it turn out for the best so that he could save all these people…” We could learn myriad lessons from Joseph’s life. Perhaps one is to be mindful of when and with whom we share our dreams. More importantly, we can learn to love and serve those around us. Even if we find ourselves in a foreign land, among unfamiliarity and difficulty, good can come out of the situation when we choose to serve our community while trusting and following God.

Reflect

You do not always get to choose the circumstances you find yourself in, but you can decide how you will respond. If you find yourself in a taxing circumstance, choose wisely. You may be the change that God wants to use.

Prayer

Father God, help me to embrace the environment where I am currently. Use my life to bring about positive changes for Your glory in Jesus’ Name.

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