G-d’s plan is the best plan
Torah Portion: Vayeishev(And He Settled) B’resheet/Genesis 37:1-40:23
Haftorah Reading: Amos 2:6-3:8
Over the next four weeks we will read of the brothers and Joseph. This makes up the longest of all narratives in Torah. It includes all the intrigue and suspense of a well written drama. Every detail is important as we read through this story. It includes the first biblical account of forgiveness when Joseph forgave his brothers. We will get to that later as we near the end of B’resheet/Genesis.
This story gives us important insight for our own journey through life. Sometimes as we live day to day our life can seem to be a disjointed series of meaningless events. It can look like a series of accidents or unconnected events or random occurrences. We might miss a traffic light making us late for an appointment. Some stray remark we make may hurt someone’s feelings, something we never intended to do. Maybe we even missed getting a job we really wanted.
Yet, looking back it all begins to make sense. In looking back, the missed job would not have been a good place for you. The missed traffic light saved you from being in an accident. Stray words caused you to be more careful of what you said in the future. Our failures or seemingly missed opportunities, when looked at later, turned out to be our deepest learning experiences. I read a very insightful comment this week. “We live life facing forward toward the future but we understand life only when it has become our past.” My question this week concerned this idea. Can anyone relate to some experience in your life that, looked at later, seems most profound?
We see this play out in the life of Joseph over the next weeks. Tonight, we read in verse 37:3 where Joseph was the beloved son of Jacob because he was the son of his old age and Jacob made him a beautiful coat. However, we quickly see Joseph’s life became one of hate and tension between him and his brothers. He was hated even more as he told his brothers his dreams. His second dream even offended his father.
His father sent him to check on his brothers who had taken the sheep to pasture. This was no simple trip. It probably took a full week of hard walking to get to where they were. As he found them they began to plot a way to kill him. Then they decided to sell him as a slave. When he arrived at his new master’s house he seemed to be favored by Potiphar but then Potiphar’s wife tried to seduce him. When he refused her advances, she accused him of assaulting her. He was then sent to prison. He had come to a low place in his life. It seemed there was no lower place to fall.
Then, a ray of hope, he interpreted the dreams of two of his fellow prisoners. These dreams were interpreted correctly. In 37:20-40:23 we read the details of this story. In verse 40:14 we read where Joseph asked the cup bearer to remember him to Pharaoh on his release. And in 40:23 the cup bearer forgot Joseph. Every seemingly good thing that happened to Joseph turned out to be another disappointment.
How would we have responded to events such as these? It would be tempting to give up, to become bitter and lose hope. However, next week we will read where, after two years, the cup bearer remembered Joseph and told Pharaoh about him. This resulted in him being elevated to the second most powerful man in the ancient world. He went from zero to hero overnight.
When we look back at his life he certainly had flaws. He was vain and probably was not easy for the brothers to be around. However, as we go through his life, over the next weeks, we will see he became a different person. He forgave his brothers for what they did. He saved the entire region from famine and secured the future of G-d’s people and the fulfillment of G-d’s promise to Avraham.
This story should speak to each of us in our walk of faith. One consistent thing we see in Joseph’s life is he never lost faith. Nowhere in scripture is it recorded that he blamed G-d for what happened to him. Rather, through all of the challenges of his life he became a different man. He learned from his trials.
When we experience difficult situation in our life this is our challenge. How do we deal with them? Do we yell and kick or do we seek out the lesson G-d is trying to teach us as He molds us into the person He desires us to be.
Every difficulty that happens to us may be part of G-d’s desire to bring us to that place where He can use us. As we are going through hard and difficult experiences we have the power, through Him, to overcome. Not only overcome but to be more and more like the person He created us to be.