I was in the last fifth of Genesis and finally…..a person I like. I was quite relieved because my reading of Genesis had focused on Cain, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob…..all guys that I found unlikable. I wanted to like a Biblical character…..an early Christian. I really did. I was beginning to wonder if it would happen. And finally…..Joseph makes his appearance in his coat of many colors….or technicolor dream coat….whichever you prefer.
Joseph is the victim of some serious sibling rivalry. He was given the gift of dream interpretation — a type of prophecy, if you will. But his brothers don’t like hearing this so they decide to get rid of him. They sell him off to be a slave and in an incredible series of events, Joseph ends up as Pharaoh’s most trusted advisor with tons of power. Eventually, Joseph comes face-to-face with those same brothers who had sold him as if he were an inanimate object. And in the end he demonstrates forgiveness that is beyond human grasp. Truly, no human could ever demonstrate such compassion and mercy on their own, I am convinced. That isn’t a criticism of humanity…..just the reality of our limitations. And you know what? When faced with his brothers begging, pleading, blubbering about how sorry they were, Joseph’s reaction was, “Think nothing of it. It’s cool. God used it all for good.” Okay, perhaps that was my paraphrasing, but you get the idea.
And this is why I love Joseph.
Now, I’m sure he was not a perfect man. Nowhere near it. Perhaps, like every other man in Genesis appears to be, he was a jealous, greedy, lying womanizer. But, thank you Jesus, I don’t have to read it. So instead of reminding me of the carnal, imperfect human that I am, Joseph reminds me of all that I aspire to be. He reminds me how God can work through me to demonstrate otherworldly peace, love, forgiveness, success. He reminds me of how God really can take the crappiest days of our lives and use them as a springboard to amazing, wonderful, happy times. Joseph’s story reminds me that God really does work in mysterious ways…..it’s not just a cliche.
Okay, perhaps I was quick to judge Genesis. What a relief.