As the minister announced his topic, I characteristically switched my ears to interior mode. The story of Joseph and his coat of many colours was one I had heard since I was two years old. Joseph the perfect example of forgiveness, but Joseph knew nothing about the battle I was having. He survived and became a success. I was not too sure I was even going to survive.
As my eyes stared blindly at the open Bible on my lap, my mind was definitely not on the story of Joseph. I had settled into the pew hoping to get a few minutes of uninterrupted thinking on my own problems.
“Now Joseph was thirty years old when he stood in front of Pharaoh, king of Egypt.”
Thirty years old! But he was just seventeen years old when sold into slavery by his brothers. Thirteen years before he saw any of his family again!
Joseph didn’t even call home. The thought tripped over all the other interruptions in my mind. I had never thought about that before. He was now a ruler in Egypt with power, wealth, a wife and children and yet he had never called home. He had never tried to see his father, or the younger brother that he loved and missed. Thirteen years. Then his brothers came to him. Joseph had not sought them out to tell them he had forgiven them. They had appeared before him to ask him for a favour. He could have them killed if he’d wanted to. But he didn’t.
Joseph was not the superman the condensed Sunday School version of the story makes him out to be. He was just a man betrayed by those he loved, and he reacted quite normally. He kept as far away from them as he could. He rebuilt his life, but he was not destroyed by what they had done nor by what they had intended to do. It took time to get to the place where God trusted him with the presence of those who had wronged him. It was to show him his own heart, to show himself and his brothers what kind of man he was.
I did not slip through the side door as usual to bypass the handshaking. This time I shook the ministers hand and thanked him for the sermon. He seemed pleased but rather puzzled at my parting words, “Joseph was quite a man, but you know, he never even called home.”
©Sharron R. McMillan