Wednesday, 18 September 2013
Reading the Bible 31: Genesis 39 – Joseph’s Good Deed Does Not Go Unpunished
I question that comes to mind reading the story of Joseph and Potiphar’s wife is, why do bad things happen to good people? We are told that God was with Joseph and he prospered despite the challenging circumstances he found himself in. He came to Egypt in the poorest of poor circumstances - as a foreign slave. Yet he succeeds against all odds. The talents that God has blessed him with enable him to rise to a position of prominence in his master’s house. He is a loyal and faithful servant and does not yield to temptation when his master’s wife tried to seduce him. He ends up in even a worse situation than when he arrived in Egypt – in prison for his trouble.
People have struggled with that question throughout history and many books have been written on the subject including books of the Bible. With some trepidation here are a few of my thought on that eternal question. Joseph seems to be beyond blame for the misfortune that befalls him in this episode of his story. Unlike his earlier treatment by his brothers which could be blamed in part on his hubris, he appears to be faultless when fate turns against him this time. So apparently being in God’s favour does not guarantee that your life will be without problems and challenges and even misfortunes or the most serious kind.
Everything does turn out for the best for Joseph as we will see in later episodes and there does seem to be God’s hand guiding Joseph through all that happens to him. However, when we consider all the twists and turn in his story we can’t help be filled with wonder at how easily it could have turned to disaster and God’s plan would have gone unfulfilled.
I don’t believe that God's caused Potiphar’s wife to attempt to seduce Joseph or to lead Potiphar to have him thrown into prison. I do believe that God can be with us and we will still suffer the slings and arrows or life fortunes. People will act in ways that God does not intend for us to act because of free will and evil. Unlike Joseph’s experience in many cases the ends does not turn out as God intends for us. However, we have the guarantee that God will be with us in our journey wherever that many take us through all its twists and turns.
Our part in this is to be intentional in understanding God’s will for us and where the Holy Spirit is leading us. The vagaries of life may intercede and work to oppose that plan just as we can make the wrong decisions in life; however, God will be with us on that journey. Thanks be to God.