Posted by: mikenicholsblog | August 11, 2011

no average joe

I must admit – I read bumper stickers.  Sometimes I laugh and sometimes I blush, but I read bumper stickers.  Have you ever seen the one that says, “To err is human, to forgive is divine … neither is a Marine Corps policy”?  Or how about the one that states, “I don’t get mad, I get even!”?  Unfortunately, this viewpoint seems to be more and more prevalent in today’s society. But recently I have been studying one amazing exception to this rule … the life of Joseph.

I have one more cliché to use before we get down to business. Remember the Tammy Wynette song, “I Beg Your Pardon, I Never Promised You a Rose Garden?”  Well, that pretty much sums up the life of Joseph.  It began with his brother’s hatred for him because he was the obvious favorite of their father, Jacob.  At first they plotted his murder, but when the opportunity presented itself, they instead sold him as a slave to a caravan going to Egypt. Joseph was 17 years old! Once there, he was sold to a man named Potiphar, the captain of Pharaoh’s guard.  It seemed that Joseph’s story had taken a turn for the better and was headed for a happy ending, as Potiphar developed such trust in him that he placed him in charge of his entire household. Then the boss’ wife turned her attention toward Joseph, and he ended up being falsely accused and thrown in prison. No, not just prison, but a dungeon.

Genesis 40:15 
I was forcibly carried off from the land of the Hebrews, and even here I have done nothing to deserve being put in a dungeon.

“…I have done nothing to deserve (this)…”  He’s right!  Joseph had been a faithful son and brother. He had run Potiphar’s household with organization and honesty.  If you remember the story, he was then forgotten by the cupbearer when Joseph played a part in his restoration to the royal court … for 2 full years!  Joseph did nothing to deserve all these terrible things that happened to him.  He must have suffered emotional pain; he was alone in a strange land, no way to contact his father and tell him where he was, and no one coming to rescue him.  Imagine the fear and despair. 

Now, I bet you are all thinking that today’s application is going to be about forgiveness.  Well, sort of, but let’s take it way beyond that!

By today’s human standards, Joseph should be bitter, depressed and vengeful.  No one could dispute that he was a victim.  When he finally comes face to face with the brothers that caused all of his pain, this is what he says to them:

Genesis 50:19 
But Joseph said to them, Don’t be afraid.  Am I in the place of God?  You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done…

I told you he was an amazing individual.  He was telling his brothers that everything that happened to him was the way God wanted it to happen.  Every decision, every event, every twist and turn was God’s plan for his life … and theirs!  Wow!  Try to wrap your brain around that for a minute.  How does one get to the point where they can say that … and actually believe it?  Joseph chose to live a life free of bitterness, and in communion with his Father.  Take a second look at this remarkable man sometime … it’s just not all about the Technicolor coat!

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