Parental favoritism, sibling conflict and jealousy, rejection and betrayal by family members, false accusations and imprisonment, forgotten by friends, and faced with the challenge of world hunger. Poor Joseph! These were completely unfair and easily overwhelming situations that he was confronted with. (His story is recorded in Genesis 37, 39-47.)
So, what was God doing during Joseph’s turmoil? As a slave in Egypt, we find “The LORD was with Joseph and he prospered … When his master saw that the LORD was with him and that the LORD gave him success in everything he did, Joseph found favor in his eyes” (Gen. 39:2-4a). While in prison, “the LORD was with him; he showed him kindness and granted him favor in the eyes of the prison warden” (Gen 39:21). God also gave Joseph the ability to interpret dreams, which came in handy when Pharaoh had disturbing ones. Pharaoh noted that Joseph had the spirit of God, discernment, and wisdom, and therefore, put him in charge of the whole land of Egypt. Joseph, with the Lord’s help, was able to plan and prepare for the predicted famine. And, he eventually provided for his own family who had betrayed him.
Adversity, struggles, and suffering truly test our faith. Waiting for the Lord to intervene on our behalf is difficult at best. While this part of Joseph’s life is described in a few short chapters, it actually covers thirteen years as a slave and prisoner with God by his side working out the details, providing, and blessing in the midst of unfair treatment. If Joseph can do it, we can too, for we remember that “You hear, O LORD, the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and you listen to their cry, defending the fatherless and the oppressed, in order that man, who is of the earth, may terrify no more” (Psalm 10:17-18).