26 October 2013

Unfair Job Loss (Joseph's Story, Day 26)

We often hear about how trials refine us.  Maybe we get the idea from Peter?

"...That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ..."  1 Peter 1:7

Precious metals go through hot refinement that melts them to the core.  The process, though it seems to bring the metal to the brink of destruction, removes and burns away anything of inferior quality.  So when Peter talks about our faith being "much more precious than of gold", the tests our faith go through are that much more high stakes in importance than the refining and shaping process gold goes through.

If I were Joseph, I would have been tempted to think I had been pretty refined by the time I had been sold as a slave and forced to survive in a foreign country, perhaps even learning a new language or two.   He endured separation from family and all that was familiar to him, he endured the shame of being sold not only by his brothers but also a second time once he got to Egypt.  He endured the trial of menial tasks until God gradually brought him into more and more favor with his master.

Through all the difficulties, griefs, and shaming, Joseph focused on his daily tasks, serving his Egyptian master as faithfully and humbly as he served his heavenly Master.

Satan had first attempted to entice Joseph away from his faith by loneliness, emptiness, and despair, without success.  Next, the devil tried to destroy him with the sinful pleasures of pride and decadence.

After all, Joseph was the most trusted man in the house.  He had access to anything in the house he could wish to enjoy.  Why should he be denied its most beautiful treasure?

The same logic worked in Eve's downfall, when she chose to believe the one forbidden fruit would bring her the most happiness, and the same old serpent hoped it would work on Joseph.

The master's wife sweetly suggested they spend some inappropriate and falsely exciting time together, and didn't give up her purpose even though Joseph gave her as clear and decided a refusal as it was possible to give.  Once he had clearly said no with his words, he said it with all his actions, refusing to even be in her presence and recognizing the sin she so persistently pursued would not simply be against Potiphar, but even more so against God Himself.

Finally one day, she caught him--physically, by the coat--while he was faithfully discharging his duties.  She wasn't strong enough to be his match, however, and yet again he escaped from temptation before it became sin.

And all in a moment, just like that, Joseph is caught again in the midst of a fiery trial.

Some say that if the Egyptian master had truly believed his wife, and thought Joseph had raped her as she accused him of doing, he would have had Joseph executed on the spot rather than sent to a prison.  Yet because he could not lose face and trust a slave boy over his wife, he apparently had to do something drastic.  I think that's reading too much into the story.

All the Bible says about Potiphar's reaction is that he got very angry, and Joseph ended up in jail because of (not even in spite of) his impeccable integrity.

Although Joseph was completely faithful to God, and in no way deserved to be thrown in prison, God chose to rescue him slowly.  Not immediately.  Years passed before Joseph saw the light of day in freedom.  God allowed him to stay in jail without apparent hope of rescue.

Joseph trusted Him still.

While he trusted, he did whatever he found to do faithfully.  Like with Daniel and his three friends, God granted him favor in the sight of his overseer, and before long, Joseph was in charge of the entire prison.

Sometimes the ways of God are mysterious to us.  We would have thought the administrative experience Joseph gained in Potiphar's house would have been enough to prepare him for the glories and intricacies of governing of Egypt. 

But perhaps God looked at it differently, and allowed Joseph to also gain the administrative experience in a prison, where the pride of life could have no entrance, where the subjects under his care would be entirely different from and more difficult than saving the world from a famine.

  In the end, all these refining trials, combined with Joseph's faithful submission to and reliance on God, prepared him to be untouched both by selfish, dishonest gain and the cold indifference that would have turned his brothers away unfed and  unforgiven.

May the trials God allows into my life bear the same fruits.

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Grab button for LADDER OF MERCY (Photo by Barbara Frohne


  1. whoa, that title made me wince. Sigh... And at the same time I felt thankful that we have so many Bible stories that can bring us comfort when we most need it, right?

    What is in that photo, some kind of foam next to the sea? Did you make that arrow? Just curious. ;-)

    1. Oh, it does look like an arrow! It's a bird footprint that got salt crystals in it. The lake we like to go to here has a very high salt concentration, and sometimes there are crystals, or foam at the shore, or both.

      Yes, it's amazing how the Bible's comfort just deepens with our experiences, isn't it?


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