This is Tim Benjamin’s article in the Evening Leader on Monday, April 27, 2020
In the closing chapters of the book of Genesis, we meet one of the most influential characters of the Old Testament: Joseph. Many of you know him for his coat of many colors. But Joseph was a man whose life was so much more than just a spoiled rich kid. God had a great plan for this man and in order for Joseph to reach what God needed him to achieve, Joseph had to embark on a journey.
God’s calling to Joseph from a young age was for Joseph to save the known world at that time from a coming famine. In order for Joseph to go from spoiled rich kid to famine fighter meant that Joseph needed some significant growing up. Public health crisis are no small issue to address, as I am sure you have all noticed over the past month. The greater the threat, this stronger the hero needed to address the threat. Unfortunately for Joseph, we all know how strength is built. We build strength through adversity, and Joseph faced far more than his fair share.
As most privileged kids tend to be, Joseph was a bit full of himself. His 10 older brothers got sick of his arrogance and debated on killing him but ultimately decided to sell him as a slave. We could debate which is worse. The slave traders sold him to a high-ranking official in Egypt. This official, named Potiphar, quickly recognized Joseph as an extremely skilled man, quickly putting Joseph in charge of his whole household.
Potiphar’s wife also noticed Joseph and she made unwelcomed advances toward Joseph. When he turned her down, she made an accusation toward him and Potiphar had no choice but to put Joseph in prison. Joseph quickly endeared himself to the person in charge of the prison and he ended up running the prison from inside.
All of this time from the time Joseph learned selling and trading from the slave traders to the skills of organizing workers and management of resources in Potiphar’s house and the prison came in handy when he was called before Pharaoh to interpret a nightmare Pharaoh had. What God revealed to Joseph from Pharaoh’s dream is that there were 7 years of good harvest coming that would be followed by 7 years of famine where the whole known world would die of starvation. Pharaoh put Joseph in charge of Egypt’s response to the famine.
Joseph immediately put his knowledge of buy and trading as well as his skills of management of people and resources he had learned from years of enslavement to preparing to save the world from the coming famine. Eventually, the world would be fed because of the skills attained by one man, a spoiled kid from the middle of nowhere.
You can read Joseph’s story for yourself in Genesis 37-50. It is there as an encouragement when life is hard because it is a reminder that there may be challenges coming that we are not currently prepared to address but because of the adversity of today, when those challenges come, we will be ready to take them head on, just like Joseph.
The biggest thing I have learned from studying Joseph’s story is that when we go through times like we are now, along with praying for deliverance and safety, we also need to pray that we learn the lesson God is placing before us. What is it that the quarantine might be preparing us for in the future that we will be prepared for when we get there? In Joseph’s story, there was no mention of famine until Joseph was over 13 years into the training to stop it.
I can understand that Joseph may not have been super grateful for the experience as it was happening, but a whole world was grateful for Joseph when they had food to eat because he had prepared the world to survive. I offer you this lesson based on a scripture that is over 2500 years old. The concerns we have today are not new. What are you individually and we as a society learning through this quarantine? That answer will shape our future just like it did for Joseph.