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Being a man of faith, even in hard times

He was the eleventh of twelve sons; special to his father because of how much his mother was loved. His father bestowed a special coat upon him, which, in his time, meant that this young son would assume family leadership which usually fell to the oldest son.

Therefore, this coat was likely an insult which provoked growing jealousy from his older brothers.

What emotions held the heart of the eldest son when this coat appeared? Was it anger, hurt or betrayal? What about this younger son? Was he confused, afraid or proud? I wonder what the fly on the wall would have said about family dinners.

Did the older brothers ignore or harass this younger brother? By now, you know that I’m talking about Joseph whose story can be read in Genesis chapters 30-50. But, let’s continue.

Eventually, Joseph, after bringing greetings from their father while they were herding sheep in a distant land, was thrown into a dry well. Joseph, huddled in an old well, listened as his brothers ate their dinner and discussed his future. How did Joseph, age 17, feel during this time? Was he afraid? Was he angry? Did he cry out to God about the unfairness of the whole situation? What do you suppose he was thinking while he traveled over 500 miles with those who had just purchased him as a slave?

In the following 12 years Joseph was in and out of high positions but he was also in and out of prison. He was falsely accused, tempted and even forgotten by those he helped. Some of his higher positions were actually while he was in prison because he excelled in whatever he did and in whatever situation he was put regardless of whether it was “fair” or not. He practiced the yet unwritten directive, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.” (Colossians 3:23 NIV)

Eventually, he interpreted dreams for Pharaoh and rose to his highest position yet. He was placed as second in command in the land, stockpiling grain during the good years so people could eat during the coming famine. It was during that famine, 22 years after being sold, that his path crossed with his family again. Ultimately, Joseph fulfilled God’s plan for him by saving his family and many others from starvation in spite of his horrible experiences and because he sought wisdom from God.

Throughout these events Joseph could have become angry, hostile and rebellious. He might have done poorly because of his unfair treatment or he might have yielded to temptation. He could have killed all his brothers for what they had done, put them in prison as punishment, or at least send them away empty handed. Yet, he showed compassion and forgiveness.

How might we have responded to this roller coaster life? It is my prayer that as we celebrate Father’s Day, fathers, no matter their past, might learn from Joseph’s model of faith. I pray that Fathers might teach their children how to stand firm in Christ in times of betrayal and disappointment. I pray that Fathers will teach and model forgiveness as Joseph forgave his brothers. I pray that fathers might model strong faith in spite of deception, lies and unfairness! We have troubles in this world but let’s not let them make us bitter, but better by leaning into God for direction. “The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.” (Psalm 9:9 NIV) Happy Father’s Day! Stay strong in the Lord!

Helen McCormack, is author of “Ordinary Life, Extraordinary wdthe devotionals written for the Minot Daily over the last 20+ years. This book is available online or by contacting her at Jesusisthereason01@gmail.com.

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