by Brittney Chan
“Now therefore be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither: for God did send me before you to preserve life.”
Y’all. This summer, I took an online abnormal psychology course - and let me tell you - I’ve been unashamedly throwing around diagnoses like confetti. Okay…it’s mostly been self-evaluations, but still, this class made me take a hard look at my life and the things in my past that make me who I am today, so that I can be purposeful with who I become.
Our friend in the Old Testament, Joseph - you know, with the coat of many colors - had a very eventful past, too. I think it’s safe to say that 100% of your childhood shapes your adulthood. So let’s take a brief survey of Joseph’s youth, because I’m almost certain you can find something relatable in it.
This young man was 17 years of age when his roller coaster of life really started picking up speed. Up to this point, he was known as Jacob’s son. He was the twelfth child and the most favored. This definitely caused a rift between him and his siblings, but it escalated rather quickly when Joseph became a dreamer.
The Bible tells us that Joseph had two dreams and he knew that they held a fairly significant meaning. He did what anyone else would do: he shared them with his family. Even though Joseph had all good intentions, those interpretations stirred up more anger in his brothers. Who was this little teenage hotshot to tell them that one day they would bow to him?!
So the siblings started whispering among themselves. Something had to be done to put Joseph in his place. He was the lowest on the totem pole and he’d better start acting like it. Maybe their scheming started out small. You know how sibling rivalry can be! Zebulun probably spoke up and said, “Let’s pour salt all over his supper for a whole month!” Dan came back with, “What about putting ten snakes between his covers tonight?” “We could make him do our chores all year long, and say ‘Dad said!’” Issachar chirped. After a few minutes of conspiring, someone spoke up and said, “Let’s just kill him!” “Listen, there’s a pit on the way to Dothan. We won’t lay a hand on him, but we’ll strip that Lil Dreamer of his precious coat and throw him in!” Reuben sneered.
And so - that’s how it came to pass. This is a scene that Joseph would probably replay for years to come. He was innocently checking on his siblings’ well-being; when they captured him, de-robed him, hurled him into a deep pit, and left him for dead. The Bible makes a point to tell us that there wasn’t any form of nourishment in this pit. No water. No food.
The boys went off a little ways and sat down for a lunch break. I mean, they had already accomplished quite a bit in one day! And here Joseph is: alone, hurt, and feeling pretty neglected by the very people who were supposed to love him. Ever been there? Do you think Joe’s brothers were close enough to him that he could hear their snickers and scoffs while they broke bread?
A little bit of time passed and Judah’s head peered over the pit’s opening. He threw down a rope and Joseph started climbing up. Maybe they changed their minds! Maybe this sick joke is over. He reached for Judah’s arm and crawled out. Almost immediately, he was pushed in front of a group of Ishmaelites, who chained him up like their most prized possession, and headed off to Egypt.
Joseph had over 300 miles of traveling to sit, and process the trauma he’d just gone through. Seventeen years old, y’all. What a story. I don’t know about you, but it evokes an abundance of compassion in me to hear what this boy endured. And you know what? His story wasn’t even over! There was still a rendezvous with Potiphar’s wife and a prison stent waiting in his future.
I think that we can all agree that Joseph’s life wasn’t a walk in the park. For a long time after this, he probably viewed the world around him through the lense of his trauma, because that’s what hurt does. It takes over. It consumes. But somewhere between that pit and the pathway to Egypt, this dreamer grew some determination.
Joseph went on to become one of the most powerful men in all of the land. He made the choice to remain faithful to God, despite what had…and would…transpire in his life. After all, his commitment wasn’t to a finite human being, but an infinite God! And history tells us that he lived for 110 years. That’s 93 years after what was meant to break him.
If I was in the audience as the Pit Scene unfolded, you can bet I’d be cheering him on. Come on, Joe! You’ve got this! You have so much of your life left to live! Get up…stay strong…regardless of what it looks like right now! You’re going to the king’s house!
And, honestly, that’s what I want you to hear, too, friend. Life doesn’t have to be about what someone else did to you, or what you did to you. The most important thing I want you to walk away with is the fact that we serve a Redeeming God. He has this beautiful ability to write the shames of our lives into His story of Grace. He calls us by name and tells us that He came to heal the brokenhearted and to preach deliverance to the captives!
Your story isn’t finished.