Joseph is one of my favourite Bible characters. The story has been well known over the centuries, and more recently was the subject of a musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber.
Who was Joseph? He was the favourite son of Jacob. Jacob in turn was the grandson of Abraham, greatly revered in the three great monotheistic faiths of Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
Joseph was given the famous multi-coloured coat and also had the ability to interpret dreams. However, he went through a series of unfortunate and undeserved betrayals and tragedies.
Joseph was betrayed by his brothers to be sold as a slave to Egypt. In Egypt he began to prosper as slave to a rich official in Pharaoh's court called Potiphar. However, Potiphar's wife persisted in making sexual advances towards him, which because of his faith in God he refused to succumb to. Even so on one day when they were alone she attempted to grab him with the intention of seducing him. Joseph had no choice but to run away, leaving Potiphar's wife to claim that he had tried to rape her. Thus started a long and undeserved 13 year prison sentence.
The short video above is from the film 'Joseph, King of Dreams'. Yes it is a cartoon, and there is artistic licence, but don't let that deceive you into thinking it is simplistic or childish.
I think the movie clip powerfully conveys something of the confusion we all at times struggle through when life does not go the way we intended or hoped for.
Here are the words of the song to ponder and reflect on:
I thought I did what's right, I thought I had the answers, I thought I chose the surest road,
But that road brought me here,
So I put up a fight, And told you how to help me,
Now, just when I have given up, The truth is coming clear, You know better than I,
You know the way, I've let go the need to know why, For you know better than I
If this has been a test, I cannot see the reason,
But maybe knowing I don't know, Is part of getting through,
I try to do what's best, And faith has made it easy,
To see the best thing I can do, Is put my trust in you,
For you know better than I, You know the way,
I've let go the need to know why, For you know better than I
I saw one cloud and thought it was the sky, I saw a bird and thought that I could follow,
But it was you who taught that bird to fly, If I let you reach me, Will you teach me,
For you know better than I, You know the way, I've let go the need to know why,
I'll take what answers you supply, You know better than I
At this stage Joseph had no idea how after 13 years of imprisonment his fortunes were about to change dramatically. Having correctly interpreted the dreams of two previous prisoners (a baker and wine taster 2 years earlier), he was to be called before the most powerful man in the world at that time, Pharaoh of Egypt. Within 24 hours Joseph would go from the obscurity and shame of a prison cell to becoming the second most powerful man in Egypt. But at this point he has no way of knowing how his life would dramatically change.
Joseph's life story takes a whole series of amazing twists and turns. You can read about it in more detail in Genesis chapters 37-50 of the Old Testament.
My intention in sharing this video with you is that whatever you may be going through in your life this can be of some encouragement to you. It is also a reminder that our lives are like a whole movie and not just a single scene.
If we are honest there are many occasions in our lives when we go through suffering and undeserved hardship that on the surface makes no sense whatsoever. It is most likely not anywhere on the scale of what Joseph went through, but the feelings of loss and confusion can be just as real. My most recent example of that was the loss of my friend Bunty on 17 March 2014.
The words of the song convey the wisdom of submitting our confusion and lack of answers in suffering to the One who knows all and sees the big picture far more than we can. There is real struggle to get to that point, and it may take many years, but once we can reach that place of acceptance God can begin to do His work within us.
If you would like to explore these themes further do see:
What questions and reflections does the example of Joseph and his unjust suffering raise for you?