Jules Does

Posts Tagged ‘patience

[Note – I know this post is 2 days (!) late, but the readings were so good that I didn’t want to skip it.]

So, today’s readings are a bit of a downer! In the first reading, Joseph is thrown into a well and then sold into slavery by his brothers because he keeps having these dreams in which they (or representatives of them) bow down before him, and their pride is so wounded that they decide to murder him. Over dreams. And a coat.

The Bible is full of terrible people.

The second reading isn’t much better – Jesus tells a parable of a group of tenants who are so dementedly possessive that they repeatedly assault and/or kill representatives of the landowner who, it should be noted, isn’t even trying to throw them out! He only wants the portion of the land’s produce that is due to him. Hardly unreasonable behaviour. The parable alludes to Jesus’ impending death and the opening up of the Kingdom of God to non-Jews and other unmentionables who were not exactly on the Pharisees’ side of the fence. Again, this passage makes for rather gloomy reading.

However! The key to today’s readings is in the Psalm for today. It summarises what happens to Joseph after he is sold into slavery: he is brought to Egypt, where he successfully interpreted the Pharaoh’s dream and helped the land prepare for seven years of famine. For me, the key verse is this one: “He sent a man before them, Joseph, sold as a slave”. The Greek for this verse literally means “to send to”, but I quite like the possible double meaning of “send before”, as in “to send previously”. God had famine in store for the Egyptians, but He also sent someone to them before the famine took place in order to help insulate them from the worst of it.

Similarly, although the parable ends in death and destruction, the Psalm helps reminds us that Christ has come so that we don’t necessarily have to be thrown out of the vineyard, so that we can stay and reap the bountiful harvest. Out of the suffering of Joseph and of Christ, an entire people can find a homeland (literal or metaphorical) – their suffering has a redemptive purpose.

It may not have been apparent to Joseph, sitting in that well waiting to be sold into slavery by his own family, and it may not always be apparent to us when we are suffering, but God can use our suffering and our pain to work wonders for many people – in Joseph’s case an entire country, in Christ’s case the entirety of humanity. I know “everything happens for a reason” is an awful thing to say to anyone who is going through something horrible, but we can draw strength from the tale of Joseph, stuck in a hole in the ground, and God’s gigantic plans for him.

Are you sitting in a dry well? What is limiting your vision of God’s plans for you? I pray that you will have the strength to trust God until your horizons open up a bit more and you can see how He can work in and through your pain.

sickergrube

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