“‘Here comes that dreamer!’ they said to each other. Come now, let’s kill him and throw him in one of these cisterns and say that a ferocious animal devoured him. Then we’ll see what comes of his dreams.” –Genesis 37:19-20 NIV
I am awed by Joseph’s unbroken spirit. His hope. God gave him those dreams and he knew they were going to come true. He didn’t know how or when. He must’ve despaired at times. But he had that deep reassurance. I picture him bleeding and broken in that cold, empty cistern, begging his brothers to come back and I see Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane.
“And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground” (Luke 22:44).
He knew what was coming, even more than Joseph, and yet, the writer of Hebrews says, “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart” (Heb. 12:2-3).
The joy set before him? That was accomplishing our salvation.
This is why Joseph’s story brings tears of shame to my eyes.
I too, have been in the pit of despair. Most of us have at some point in our life. But, unlike Joseph, I saw no hope there. He only had his dreams to comfort him and he was able to fix his eyes on that promise so well, that he patiently endured.
Not me. I was resentful. I cried out, “Why did you let this happen?” I was angry. I was jealous of others. I am like Joseph’s brothers. I am like the Pharisees.
I sat in my pity pot and stewed for about a year before I managed to let go of my resentment and turn my eyes back to Jesus and consider him.
Consider him. Consider the raw, bleeding, stripes on his back, the nails in his hands and feet. Consider how he struggled to breathe, how thirsty he was, how physically and mentally exhausted he was. Consider the power he had and refused to call upon.
Because of you. Because of me. Because he considered it joy to die so that he could take away death for us.
That is our hope. That is how we live through the pain. Consider him.
If you are a believer, your spirit will never die. This sin-saturated world can be horrible. Our bodies can be filled with pain. Our hearts can be so broken that we don’t think we can bear it.
“We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body” (2 Cor. 4:8-10 NIV).
We can bear it. Because Jesus bore the punishment for our sins and took away Satan’s only weapon: death. We can fix our eyes on Jesus to help us remember that this is all temporary. We can have hope, like Joseph. We can look past the pain and… “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Cor. 4:16-18).
If we can find a way to stop asking, “Why did you let this happen?” and start asking, “How can I glorify God in this?” We can have the peace that Joseph had.
Let your love for God and for others be so huge that there is no room in your heart for resentment. You can only do that if you fix your eyes on the promise, like Joseph did, and like Jesus did.
With love in Christ,
Father, forgive me. I often love myself with all my heart, soul, mind and strength, instead of you. Whenever I do, my life is a mess and the pain of it is almost more than I can bear. Thank you for Joseph’s example that reminds me of Jesus and how I have to look beyond myself and my circumstances to what is eternal, so I can fix my eyes on that and turn my heart back over to you. Grant me peace and perspective to do that.