In the first “Accept, Admit, Abide” post, we asked the question, “Does Christianity have answers for times like this?” That led us to look at this idea of lament. We understood that Biblical lament asks God why while still trusting in His character. Let’s take a look at how this played out in the life of Joseph.
In Genesis 37-49, we find the story of Joseph. As the favorite of his father, and with literal dreams of grandeur, Joseph was in a sticky place when it came to his brothers. Though they didn’t know it at the time, Joseph’s dreams would eventually come true when he rose to second-in-command of Egypt. However, the road to leadership came at a steep personal cost to Joseph.
Joseph & Betrayal
Provoked to jealousy by their father’s favoritism of their brother—as well as by Joseph’s own dreams—Joseph’s brothers betrayed him, selling him into slavery. In Egypt, Joseph was lied about, imprisoned, and forgotten by those he served. Through it all, we don’t see in the narrative where Joseph wondered why his brothers didn’t love him or why his father didn’t come to save him. What we do see is Joseph’s steadfast faithfulness to God, even in the midst of betrayal and pain.
Joseph’s amazing course of action through his deep personal trials and loss shows us what to do when we’re betrayed, in pain, confused, and questioning. Stay faithful. Trust in God’s character. As God’s people, we should continue to remain faithful, continue to push forward, continue to do what God has called us to do, no matter what.
That’s what we see in Joseph’s life. Joseph accepted his circumstances. He admitted he was confused (we’ll see this in a moment), and he chose to faithfully abide in God through it all.Joseph's story shows us what to do when we face deep personal trials, loss, betrayal, pain, confusion, and unanswered questions. #biblestudy #lament #christianliving Click To Tweet
Abide in God
As we progress through Joseph’s story, we see things start to turn around. Joseph is summoned from his prison by none other than Pharaoh. He then interprets Pharaoh’s dreams and Pharaoh rewards him by doing something unbelievable—he makes Joseph second in command of all the land. In the time that followed, Joseph married and had two sons. His son’s names reveal to us the condition of Joseph’s heart. We see that Joseph had accepted what had happened to him while admitting he didn’t understand the ‘why’.
Joseph named his firstborn Manasseh, which means, “God has made me forget all my trouble and all my father’s household.” Joseph struggled with unanswered questions but at the birth of his son, he recognized that God had given him a gift that would help him forget the trouble those problems had caused.
He named his second son Ephraim. This name meant, “God has made me fruitful in the land of my affliction.” Both names declare that despite his grief, pain, and misery, he believed God had made him fruitful. We see in this that Joseph had lamented. He had admitted the pain and confusion while never forgetting the character of God. He even credited God with giving him children to help him forget. What an amazing story.Joseph struggled with unanswered questions but chose to abide in God. #Covid19 #biblestudy Click To Tweet
Forgiveness & Peace—the Product of Accept, Admit & Abide
What happened when Joseph’s brothers arrived back on the scene? We see Joseph calm and collected toward them because he had already lamented before God. He had already decided to trust that God was walking through the difficult journey with him. And his journey was so much more than a month or two of quarantine. He had lost an entire lifetime of relationship with his father and family.
We don’t know when, or if, we will receive the answers to our own painful questions. So what do we do while we wait? We look more like Joseph. We rest in the fact that even though we have questions, we can go to God and trust him to stay with us through our affliction. Reflect on how Joseph spoke to his brothers. He told them not to be afraid, then he explained that what they had meant as evil against him, God had meant for good and had used it to preserve many people alive.
Joseph wasn’t fixated on his own loss. Though he had missed years with his father, he chose to rejoice in what God had done. So deep was this trust in God and acceptance of his reality, that he is able to reassure the very ones who had harmed him, letting them know that they didn’t need to fear his retribution.
My wife made the observation that Joseph had probably already resolved in his heart (during the years of plenty when God had given him sons) that he would forgive his brothers the evil they had committed against him. Why? Because when they arrived in Egypt (when he has them within his power) he tells them not to be afraid. He does the opposite of what is natural. He comforts his brothers and speaks kindly to them.We don’t know when, or if, we will receive the answers to our own painful questions. So what do we do while we wait? We look more like Joseph. #christianity Click To Tweet
Summing it Up
What does Joseph’s story teach us about lamenting? We see him admitting the truth about his situation. We see him grieve. We see him accept reality. We never see him rebel against the life he’d been given. Instead, he abides in God’s plan and is able to preserve his family and the Jewish nation. Accept, admit, abide.
In the final post in this series, we will look at Job. Job’s story has its own interesting aspects, including the fact that God offered Job up for consideration to the accuser—Satan. Until then, I’d love to hear your thoughts on the life of Joseph. What parallels do you make with your own experience, or what lessons would you like to apply to your life? Comment below or email me at email@example.com.