by Tony Coffey

While Joseph was suffering unjustly in prison, "the Lord was with him." (Genesis 39:21) The king's cupbearer and baker were also imprisoned along with Joseph. One night both men had a dream, which Joseph interpreted with accuracy: the baker would be executed and the cupbearer would be released. Upon being reinstated to his original position "The chief cupbearer, however, did not remember Joseph; he forgot him." (Genesis 40:23)

When two full years had passed, Pharaoh had a dream which no one could interpret. At this point the cupbearer remembered Joseph, who was still in jail, and told the king. Joseph interpreted the dream revealing that there would be seven years of prosperity followed by seven years of famine. Knowing God was with him, Pharaoh promoted Joseph to be second to himself in all Egypt.

The famine spread outside the borders of Egypt, affecting Joseph's family living in Canaan. It becomes more evident that the hand of God has been involved in everything that has happened to Joseph. Joseph's position in Egypt will ensure that his family does not become extinct. And that's important because God had made a promise to bring a Saviour into the world through the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. And Joseph played a key role in ensuring that the promise made by God would not fail. And it didn't.

The life of Joseph (see Genesis 37-50) is worth reflecting upon. There is a fountain of practical lesson for us all to learn. Though we are removed from the event by some four thousand years, all of us, in varying degrees, face the same things Joseph had to face: rejection by family, abuse, sexual temptations, false accusation, injustice, ingratitude, hardship etc, etc. So what can we learn from Joseph's life that can be of help to us?

Practical Lessons from the Life of Joseph

1. A young person can be a mighty instrument in the hand of God, bringing his plans to fulfilment.
2. God is not looking for perfect people to carry out his will; he's looking for faithful people. Age is not a barrier.
3. A young person doesn't have to be bad. Living as a rebellious teenager is not something a young person has to do. Joseph didn't.
4. Sexual immorality is not a road a young person has to go down. Joseph didn't.
5. A young person doesn't have to become unfaithful to God simply because he or she has major difficulties in life.
6. Even in the worst situations – and Joseph was in them – God was still with him and will always be with us.
7. Throughout his time in Egypt Joseph remained faithful to God, even though he faced many discouraging moments – moments when he could have doubted God. But he kept growing spiritually, cultivating a heart for God. If Joseph can do it, so can we.
8. God never changes. What God did for Joseph he can do for us.
9. Joseph was faced with two choices: He could become a bitter, spiteful, hateful person because of the way his brothers had treated him Or he could chose to be obedient to God and forgive the wrong committed against him. He chose the latter. And so can we.
10. The Bible speaks about being "useful to the Master and prepared to do every good work." (2 Timothy 2:24) Joseph made the right choices and so proved himself useful to the Master. So can we.