Day 38, April 20, 2020
“A Good Perspective”
God is good…all the time. And all the time…God is good. That call and response has been shouted by many a pastor and shared by an even greater number of believers at prayer meetings and in personal conversations. The goodness of God is deeply rooted in the pages of scripture. The first chapter in Genesis emphasizes God’s goodness on a daily basis, culminating with the joyous exclamation, “And it was very good.” Unfortunately, it sounds like we have at least seven more days of isolation ahead of us. Well, for the next seven days, just like the seven days in Genesis, we are going to focus on the goodness of God.
We begin with a good perspective. The good perspective is found in Genesis, the first book of the bible. But the good perspective I am referring to is found not in the opening chapter of Genesis. The good perspective is found in the chapter that closes the book of beginnings.
The story of Joseph and his brothers has not only been taught in many a Sunday school class with flannel board figures and crayons brightly coloring the famous coat of many colors, the story of Joseph has even made it all the way to Broadway, and many smaller venues, thanks to the musical “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.”
What a story it is. Beginning in chapter 37 the saga of Joseph covers 1/3 of the Book of Genesis. There is the unexpected rise to prominence of Jacob’s favorite son, a rise that inflated the young man’s ego and instilled a fierce jealousy among his ten older brothers. Finding opportunity to gain the upper hand his older brothers conspired to sell him into slavery and convince old Jacob that Joseph had met a tragic end.
This convoluted tale of favoritism and sibling rivalry expands to include a geographical move of the greatest importance. Joseph is sold into slavery and ends up in Egypt. That move to Egypt sets the stage for the pivotal act of God’s deliverance, the Exodus. But first, Joseph gets to Egypt, where he gains a small amount of authority overseeing the house of Potiphar and then experiences another crisis when he is unjustly accused and thrown into prison. Even as Joseph languishes in the prison, he finds favor with the warden. In that prison he interprets the dreams for two of Pharaoh’s officials. Sadly, instead of being lifted out of the dungeon, his help is swiftly forgotten.
Until…Pharaoh needs some dreams interpreted. Joseph is primed and ready when he is called upon. Pharaoh heeds the interpretation of Joseph, and with a slight nudge from the interpreter himself appoints none other than Joseph to a place of prominence in Egypt second only to Pharaoh. Time passes, seven years and more, and then during a far-reaching famine his long-lost brothers appear asking for food. But to say time passes and count seven years doesn’t really do justice to the lengthy ordeal Joseph has endured. Joseph was thirty years old when he entered the service for Pharaoh (Genesis 41:46). Adding on the seven good years of great harvest, and however many of the bad years of famine came before Joseph reconnected with his brothers, it was at least twenty years since the young man of seventeen we met way back in Genesis 37 finally found a resolution to the crisis that rocked his world, the crisis of being betrayed, beaten up, and sold by his brothers.
How would you feel after more than twenty years of enduring the suffering and sorrow? Even knowing the suffering and shame had led to some positive outcomes, how would you feel? Could you look back on all of it and see how God had been working, even in times of pain, rejection, long periods of isolation, being unfairly treated, and finally facing the very ones who had beat you up and betrayed you? What would your perspective be? The way Joseph is able to look at all the bad he endured and to see all the ways God had been at work during the worst of times and at his weakest moments, well, to say Joseph has a good perspective is an understatement. But it is also an incredibly important statement. We now have the opportunity to begin looking at what God might be doing in our lives, in our families, in our nation, and in our world through a devastating crisis, the Coronavirus Crisis.
I hope you might take time to revisit Joseph’s story. But even if you don’t, here’s how it ends. Here is the perspective of Joseph, the young dreamer whose dreams were dashed, but who came at last to trust God’s goodness. Joseph says to his brothers in Genesis 50:20, a verse that comes at the very end of the book of beginnings, Joseph says to his brothers, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good.” It might not be evident right now…it might not be evident for a long time…but God is good…all the time. And all the time…God is good. Friends, I hope we can all have such a good perspective as we go forward in this time of crisis.
With the love of Christ,