As a mother raising three young men, the story of Joseph and his brothers has become all the more compelling to me. Let's just picture this scenario. Let's say that my husband gave my youngest son, Drew, an authentic Ted Williams Red Sox jersey and left the two older brothers a couple of hand-me-down Hanes t-shirts. And then let's say Drew rolled into the kitchen one morning wearing said jersey, grabbed the box of Cheerios, and said to his older brothers, "Hey, guys. Wanna hear about these awesome dreams I had last night? Well, what happened was that you two schmucks and the sun and the moon and the stars and even Pops over there bowed down to me. Pretty cool, right?"
In this scenario, I'm pretty sure that Drew, in addition to his fancy jersey, had better be wearing some pretty solid running shoes that morning because I'm not anticipating that a happy family breakfast would follow.
To be clear, I'm not defending the actions of Joseph's brothers. They initially plan to kill him, then strip him of his robe, throw him into a cistern and eventually sell him to the Ishmaelites. Later they deceive their father into believing he's been killed by an animal. Not good.
But we know that by the end of this story, Joseph's dream will be a reality. We know that he is chosen. We know that the Lord never left him, loved him, and would redeem his suffering in amazing ways. There is a lesson for us in Joseph's initial misuse of this honor, privilege, and power. Perhaps some quiet reflection was in order after Joseph had the dreams. Perhaps some contemplative conversation with God. Perhaps Joseph was a little quick to relay this dream without first thinking about what it might mean, not only for his own life, but for the lives of his family. And hey, buddy, perhaps a little tact?
The lessons this story teaches about the sins of jealousy, anger, hatred, and vengeance are clear. But just as much I think it has a word to teach us about the sin of pride. It teaches us that power requires responsibility. It reminds us that privilege demands a huge dose of humility. It teaches us that using our words carelessly and impulsively can have dangerous consequences.
Gratefully, in the end it teaches us that all of these sins do not have the final word. Through the story of Joseph's triumph of faith we learn that God does not leave us alone in our sin and our distress. We learn that not only will God redeem our suffering, but that He can do immeasurably more than we could ever ask or imagine with our lives to fulfill His plan. Through Joseph's astonishing acts of forgiveness and grace toward his brothers, we learn that no matter what we have done, the Lord can and will deliver us from evil.
His will be done and it will be for our good. Thanks be to God.