“This time he told the dream to his father as well as to his brothers, but his father scolded him. ‘What kind of dream is that?” he asked. “Will your mother and I and your brothers actually come and bow to the ground before you?’ But while his brothers were jealous of Joseph, his father wondered what the dreams meant.” Genesis 37:10-11 (NLT)
“I was the favorite.” I’ve taunted my brothers with that statement. I’m the youngest of nine kids. Before the term was popular, I bounced into the scene of a “blended family.” Whether Mom liked me the best or not, I was “Daddy’s little girl.” I can understand a bit of the family dynamic occurring in Jacob’s situation.
Joseph, a man of integrity, a man who swam against the current, who was different enough to be noticed, had a rough start. The familiar stories of Joseph’s life are grand and inspiring—but those stories had a beginning that makes you cringe.
Joseph was 17 years old. Joseph’s mom, Rachel, was Jacob’s favorite wife. You can feel the trouble brewing just in that single statement. Wait, it gets worse. Jacob singled out Joseph, gave him a beautiful coat and asked him to tattle on his older brothers.
If being sent to spy on your older brothers isn’t enough, Joseph began having dreams. Innocently—there’s no reason to believe otherwise—Joseph shared his dream with his brothers. I like how the New Living Translation interprets the brother’s reaction to the dream: “…they hated him more than ever.” Even Jacob, who showed special favor to Joseph, told him to shut up!
Joseph’s brothers were so jealous and angry they decided to kill Joseph. Instead, they sold Joseph to some traders heading to Egypt and told their dad, Jacob, the lie that a wild animal had killed Joseph.
That’s the beginning of the story. Sad. Convoluted. Dysfunctional. Filled with bitter emotion.
It’s Not The End
If the story began in Genesis 38, Joseph might seem bigger than life—we might be a bit jealous of him, too. Joseph rose to power. His sad beginning had a grand ending. The beginning is as important as the ending. Take note of this beginning—the story is here for a reason.
Here’s a young man, a teenager, sold into slavery and taken to a foreign land. Does the plot sound familiar? Daniel, Enoch, Noah, all men in circumstances less than perfect. All of them alone, faced with uncertainty and evil—yet they were different. They were noticeable.
If your history taints your today, find hope in Joseph’s story.
A Beautiful Story
The boy from a dysfunctional family made the choice—in slavery, in prison, in temptation—to act with integrity. Joseph determined to be different, even when it wasn’t easy. Joseph determined to be different when there was no upside to his situation, when there was no end in sight—Joseph remained determined to be different.
God gave Joseph favor—that’s grace. God has the same empowering grace ready to help you overcome. Ask God for His grace today. Swim upstream. Be different—in spite of your past. Put your trust in God instead of your less-than-perfect past.
God can turn the most dismal beginnings into a grand finale.
Father, I need your grace to overcome my past failures and hurts. I’ve made mistakes that haunt me. Help me see the new life You offer in Christ. Teach me to rest in Your power for my today. Give me the grace I need to live a determined, different life.