Friday, January 29, 2016

Notes on Being Mormon: What I've Learned From Joseph in Egypt

I've spent much of my life intimately acquainted with the story of Joseph and the multi-colored coat and his being sold by his brothers and eventually ending up as 1st assistant to the Pharoah of Egypt. When I was a teenager, my dad gave me the soundtrack to the musical "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat", which is surprisingly true to the scriptural account, and I was hooked. I was even able to perform in the show twice- once in High School, and again in community theater. So, I know the story pretty well. 

Every time I hear/read/consider it, I'm struck by what a fantastic example it is of how God can and will take things that seem evil, or may even have been intended as evil, and He will use those things for good-- for His purposes. I love this idea. 

I believe that, for the most part, I have "control" of what happens in my life. I choose whether to obey the commandments, I choose whether to go to work each day, to go to college, or to eat healthy. I believe we have a large amount of power in our own lives. However, there are often things that happen to us that are completely out of our control. For Joseph, this began with his father preferring him over all 10 of his older brothers, and culminated in Jacob giving him a fancy coat. His brothers, angry, jealous, and probably outraged (especially considering the birth-order hierarchy of the times), took him and threw him in a pit, planning to leave him for dead. They changed their mind when the opportunity came to make some money while ridding themselves of Joseph, and they sold him into slavery.

I can't think of many things that would be worse than this. Joseph, who loved his father, lived righteously and worked hard, and who probably looked up to his older brothers, was cast out by them, and worse, sold into a future as a slave. He was property, and had to do whatever his master wanted. 
Being a man of honor, though, Joseph didn't give in to despair. Instead, he worked diligently, and remained faithful to God. God took the situation, and blessed Joseph. He was made the master of the house, and his owner admired him and loved him. 

But Joseph's story wasn't over. He faithfully avoided sexual impropriety with Potiphar's wife, and in turn was imprisoned for the very crime she had perpetrated on him. 

Finding himself in prison, instead of turning on God and being angry or resentful of God for his situation, he remained faithful, and offered his help to any who needed it. 

Of course, you know the story: he interpreted a dream for the Pharoah and ultimately became the Pharoah's top advisor, which led to his managing the food storage for the entire country, rescuing Egypt from famine, and eventually blessing his own family the same way.

So that's the story. 

The question becomes, what do I do in the face of desperate situations outside of my control? And how does God use those situations for good? In fact, in my life, I have a huge example of this. My mother, who was physically and emotionally abusive, left the family when I was 12. Her leaving, in many ways, was horrible. But it was also a blessing. God took this situation-- her abuse, her abandonment, and in me and my sisters, he has used those very things to bless us--we are all much better mothers than we might have been otherwise. Because of His help, I've become the mother she couldn't be. The evil she did has been turned to good in us. We are the opposite of her.

I'm reminded, also, of  2 Nephi 3:13 And out of weakness he shall be made strong, in that day when my work shall commence among all my people, unto the restoring thee, O house of Israel, saith the Lord.

Have faith, trust God. He knows what He's doing. 

No comments: