Young Joseph had some amazing dreams that showed he would one day lead his family.
Joseph was proud of this beautiful future, so he was probably surprised when his life started falling apart. His brothers hated him because their father loved him most. Instead of just calling Joseph mean names, they sold him as a slave. Slavery?! Joseph hadn’t dreamed about that. He was treated well by his Egyptian master until people told lies that sent Joseph to jail. Jail?! Again, his visions of becoming important were smashed into little pieces. Then, one day, God put dreams into Pharaoh’s head that were sort of scary. He searched the land for someone to explain all the fat and skinny cows he had seen in his dream. Only Joseph could explain they were a warning from God. The dream indicated a famine was coming and there wouldn’t be enough food, so Pharaoh lifted Joseph up out of jail and placed him next to the throne. Joseph now had the super-important job of making sure the Egyptians didn’t run out of food.
Then when the famine came, the Egyptians had food but other people, including Joseph’s family, were starving. His brothers traveled the long dirt roads to Egypt for grain to fill their bellies. Upon arriving, they were shocked and terrified to find Joseph was alive and very powerful. With wide eyes, they bent their wobbly knees before him, just like Joseph’s dreams showed they would. Joseph could have spewed hateful words at them or said, “Ha, ha! I told you I would rule over you!” Instead, Joseph gently said, “You meant to destroy my life by breaking it into pieces. But you didn’t know that God was at work through you, chiseling away the rough edges of pride and hardness in my heart. God was leading me on a crooked and painful path to this seat beside Pharaoh. What you meant for evil, He always meant for good.” God had always planned to use mean brothers, slavery, and jail to change Joseph and put him in the perfect place to save God’s people.
The story of God’s Son, Jesus, was a lot like Joseph’s. Jesus had a beautiful dream of saving God’s people, but to make this come true, Jesus had to watch His life fill with brokenness. He was hated by people and even sold away by one of His best friends for money. He was thrown into jail and beaten and crowned with thorns. But the most hurtful thing of all was being nailed to the cross. Jesus stayed there and took all of God’s anger at sin so He could pay the full and final price for our sin. God always knew the cost for us to be His. Jesus would have His life smashed to pieces and walk the painful path to His death on the cross, all in perfect fulfillment of what God had always planned.
Has God ever used something hard, sad, or hurtful to bring about something good in your life?
Many of Jesus’s disciples were put in jail, beaten, or forced to leave their homes because they were telling people about all that Jesus had done to pay for our sin. What do you think they thought about on their hard days to help them get through the sad and hurtful things that were happening?
This Advent devotional resource was produced by The Austin Stone Community Church in Austin, TX. The original resource can be found here.