I have often pondered the life of Joseph. I have heard many characterizations of him in books, sermons, and on blogs. He, like Shakespeare's Hamlet, is not so well defined in the words of the text that we can't see him in a range of different characterizations. In some respects he is a little bit "universalized" like Paul's thorn in the flesh. There is not quite enough information to say exactly what he was like, therefore the application of the principals surrounding his life are also a little bit universal.
That said, here is what I love about the Joseph story. He had a promise from God. He believed it, he endured all types of hardship to get there, he showed character, and when he got there, he was a humble, but anointed servant. We all probably relate to Joseph's life in some way. Personally, I see where I haven't always believed the promises I have received; I haven't endured the betrayal well, and the character, yikes! There have also been those times when I was entrusted with a little, and I really didn't do too much with it.... and the other time when I thought I was such a big deal for Jesus.
This is my take on Joseph. I think of Joseph as a very gifted and very misunderstood (by his family anyway) individual, always standing back hoping for his turn to be who God had made him. His gift is like a race car at the starting line, just waiting for the moment to effuse that which God has spoken to him, yet the track is filled with obstacles making a good run nearly impossible. When he interprets the dreams in jail, he is finally just exactly who God made him. He has nothing else to lose, and so Joseph goes for it, but he has also been broken. With nothing to gain, he simply serves God with his prophetic gift. I think that God wants us all to be like that-- just available to serve Him. Just to be who we are, letting God provide the rewards, regardless of the circumstances. A person with nothing left to prove.
In the end (because that is where God is taking us, to the end!), Joseph didn't shrink back, he took his lumps, and became spiritually broken in such a way, that the pure essence of the Lord was able to pour out of him in service to the Egyptians, and the Jews. God was able to take the hardships; that which was meant for evil, and bring him through.
I confess, I have been thinking about some of my own hardships and Joseph is a reminder that God will bring me though to the destiny that he has for me. And you too.
Here are a few lessons from the story of Joseph. Thanks to Xenos Christian Fellowship for the inspiration.
He did not give into despair (Romans 8:31-37).
He did not complain about his circumstances (Colossians 3:23,24).
Instead of compromising morally to get ahead, he obeyed God. (1 Peter 4:19).
He gave credit to God at every crucial point (Genesis 39:2,3; 40:8; 41:16).
He did not become bitter toward his offenders, he extended forgiveness to them. (Genesis 50:19-21)