Read Genesis 37:1-36
I heard his story as a young child in Sunday School. Joseph was the one whose father loved him best and proved it with a beautiful (and, in my mind’s picture, huge) colorfully striped coat. I imagined him wearing the coat everywhere, even into the pit where his hateful brothers threw him before they sold him. As a child, I felt sorry for Joseph. After all, he couldn’t help it that his father loved him most. So in the end of the story, when Joseph became a ruler in Egypt, it made perfect sense to me. The good guy finally got what he deserved. And they all lived happily ever after.
I read the story today, however, and see things differently.
Today, I see the truth about Joseph’s character, and it proves a far cry from undeserved animosity. In all truth, he was a 17-year-old tattle-tale, full of pride and dare I say a good bit of brat, who couldn’t keep his mouth shut. Don’t get me wrong, Joseph’s brothers had no right to commit the hate-crimes they did. Nobody, no matter how bratty, deserves that kind of spiteful abuse. But as I read the account today, I find a little more understanding for the depth of his brothers’ resentment that had been building all those 17 years. “They hated him and could not speak a kind word to him” (v. 4).
His is a story of amazing fortitude and strength in the midst of the horrible and the long suffering. But it is also one of a bratty little brother becoming a man of God, broken and rebuilt through His faith in the one true God who redeems even the worst situations.
We might find ourselves somewhere in the story — the bratty brother full of pride, the hateful Judah full of bitterness, the broken father facing his own sorrow and fear, the wrongfully imprisoned Joseph waiting for the promise of release. Or perhaps we will grow right along with Joseph. From the little kid who thinks he’s entitled to whatever he wants to broken man of God who chases His definition of good, even when it means walking through the bad.