Other than working as a Christian Science practitioner, and being the church flower committee–see in this post the flowers my husband grew for that: the above arrangement was in church yesterday– I am the Sunday School teacher for the high school class. I love it!
We have embarked on a little curriculum we made up taking us straight through the Bible and then on to the metaphysical highlights of Christian Science. Our emphasis is applicability in our contemporary experience (which is what rivets me to this content) but we are also after cultural literacy, for the current pupils do not have a Biblical background at all, so are hearing these stories for the first time.
Today we discussed the story of Joseph. I enjoy this character. Blog readers might remember that I loved this book about Joseph (and gave it five stars) as well as both movie versions. I thought I’d share with you some of the lessons we took away from the story yesterday.
If you are not familiar with a full account of the story of Joseph (chapters 30-50 in Genesis) I encourage you to read it. I’ll give you a thumbnail version here in italics that you can skip if you know the story:
Jacob spoiled Joseph, his favorite son, with a special coat of many colors. His ten older brothers were irritated about that. Also, Joseph came off very egotistical when he shared dreams of his sheaves of wheat standing while theirs all bowed to him. Far from home one day, his gang of older brothers took his robe from him, threw him in a pit, and sold him into slavery. They put goat’s blood on the coat of many colors, and took it home to their father, insinuating that Joseph had died. Jacob grieved mightily.
Meanwhile, Joseph was taken to Egypt and sold as a slave in the home of Potiphar, the captain of Pharaohs’ guards. Potiphar was a good man, and when he noticed how everything that Joseph touched thrived, he put him in charge of his whole house. Eventually, Potiphar’s wife tried to get Joseph to sleep with her, and when he vehemently refused, she told her husband he had sexually abused her. So even though he was innocent, Joseph was thrown into prison.
Joseph–faithful to God and uncomplaining– languished in prison for years. He made himself helpful, and was given responsibility there as well. One day, two prisoners asked him to interpret their dreams, and Joseph accurately did so. A couple years later, when the Pharaoh wanted a dream interpreted, one of those prisoners had been released, and said Joseph was the man to do it. Joseph correctly interpreted the Pharaohs’ dream to be about seven years of plenty followed seven years of famine. Then he made a wise suggestion of how to manage the situation for the benefit of everyone. Pharaoh set Joseph up as second only to him, and asked him to carry out his wise plan.
For seven years, Joseph built barns and frugally stored away food for the following seven lean years. He was honest and filled with integrity in all his dealings. Eventually his brothers–contrite and hungry– came to buy wheat from him. They bowed down to Joseph (as in his dream). He realized they had changed– and that God had been working His purpose out all along– so he forgave them, and the family was reunited in Egypt.
Anyway, here were some of the lessons from this story that we discussed yesterday in Sunday School:
- We too will not be overcome by our trials.
- Good is not punished. God is good and good is always rewarded.
- Evil’s attempts to harm the innocent are futile.
- Do we strive to serve God better when the way seems long and weary?
- When other people do bad stuff, that’s theirs to work out not yours. You will benefit by holding no resentment, and focusing on what is yours to learn and do.
- Evil determines nothing and God will transform it every time. Sometimes it takes a while, and we have to trust it is happening even when we can’t see it. Keep a positive attitude, no matter what. You’ll eventually have the macro view and see that actually good was going on after all.
- Be quick to be obedient in every task. Do your work to the best of your ability wherever you are and whatever position you are in. Make the most of your every opportunity. Be of use to those around you.
- Have the amazing unselfed love that returns good for evil. Others will notice the power of that and be attracted to it. The more people insist on being good no matter what happens, it will have a snowball effect, resulting very practically in the saving of the whole world. It starts with each and every one of us.
- This story is an example of a problem that was not speedily worked out, but it still did resolve for the benefit of everyone. Be patient. Sometimes there are quick solutions, others are more convoluted and involved. But there are always solutions in process, and fast or slow, they are valid just the same. We can be assured of a solution if patience, meekness, wisdom, faith and love are prioritized and expressed.
- We are not victims of circumstances. God’s creation is not volatile and vulnerable. Circumstances can be divine choreography, or they can merely be hurdles to be overcome. They cannot ever thwart good.
- Keep your thoughts and actions focused on God instead of being distracted by frustration, feeling sorry for yourself, or feeling impotent or maligned. Let your relationship with God come first and refuse to waver from that, and things will sort out. Reliance on God enables progress, and progress is assured.
- Be humble whether a lowly slave or prisoner, the favored son, or the Pharaoh’s right hand guy.
- The wrong-doing brothers grew too, and were redeemed and forgiven. So if you did something wrong, know the story is not over yet. Turn your heart to God and be encouraged. Also, have compassion on the wrongdoers, and be wise but forgiving. No one can be deprived of God-bestowed good.
- God governed every aspect of Joseph’s career. God was the divine cause in his experience and is in yours as well. Claim and know that God is governing your career.
We are on to Moses next week!