You may be familiar with the story of Joseph but try reading it through the lens of Psalm 23. Somehow, in the midst of his completely chaotic life, Joseph grasped the faith of this passage. If he would have been able to read it in the pit (betrayed by his brothers) or in the prison (falsely convicted), and someone asked him if he believed “goodness and mercy were following him,” he might have said, “It doesn’t feel like it right now …”
But Joseph held on to his faith and his integrity; his actions proved that he believed in God’s relentlessly pursuing goodness. And in time, he would eventually see that goodness and mercy had been at work in his life.
Joseph’s story points to that of another son of Jacob, who would walk the same path Joseph walked.
Like Joseph, this Son would be betrayed by his brothers, then lied about and falsely accused.
Like Joseph, he would be raised from that pit to sit onto the highest throne of the land, where he would offer salvation to the nations of the world.
Like Joseph, instead of using that throne to exact vengeance on his betrayers, he would forgive and restore them.
And like Joseph, he would weep tears of joy when his brothers were reconciled to him.
Think about how many Bible characters experienced life this way – Joseph, David, Job, even Jesus and His disciples. There were decades between when Joseph was betrayed and when he saw it all work out for good. Decades of, “God, this doesn’t feel fair,” and “God, what are you doing?” And can you imagine just how long those three days between Jesus’ crucifixion and His resurrection felt to His disciples?
After the battle of Waterloo, some ships returned to England to bring news of the Duke of Wellington’s victory over Napoleon. It was a foggy day, so the first transmission from the ships to the mainland was obscured. It read, “Wellington defeated.” The people began to cry and despair. But then the fog lifted, and the entire message was clear: “Wellington defeated the enemy.”
When Jesus died, the demons screamed out, “Jesus defeated!” They thought the story was over. It wasn’t. When the fog lifted on that bright Sunday morning, we all got the rest of the message. Jesus defeated the enemy!
When our loved ones die, when we’ve been betrayed by our friends, when we’re languishing in prison like Joseph, the demons scream into our hearts, “You are defeated!” But there is a day coming when the fog lifts and you see that not one thing was out of God’s control, not one thing was wasted, and that Christ was victorious over all of it.
Sometimes, like Joseph, we won’t see the resolution until far in the future. Sometimes, we have to stick around to the very end to see that “goodness and mercy” really have been following us all the days of our lives. And for many of us, we won’t see it this side of the resurrection.
So, we wait. If we’re in Christ, then our stories are wrapped up into His, and that means that we can expect the same providence we see at work in Joseph’s life – and in Jesus’ life.