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Songs in the Night 4 — Joseph’s Song

Songs in the Night Day 4: Joseph’s Song

The LORD your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With His love, He will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs. (Zephaniah 3:17)

It was God who sent me here ahead of you to preserve your lives. (Genesis 45:5)

Read Joseph’s story in Genesis chapters 37 and 39-50.

Joseph was singled out to hold a place of favor. He didn’t exactly know how to rightly handle the revelation given to him by God through his dreams—even his father got squirmy. Joseph believed and spoke boldly the truth he’d been given. We don’t know how he might have imagined the story unfolding, but it definitely took a sharp and unexpected turn, nearly killing him. He was stripped of his robe, thrown into a pit, his terrified pleading ignored, and then he was sold into slavery in a foreign land.

But the LORD was with him. The LORD prospered him, and Joseph gave Him the credit. In all his years in Egypt, we never read that Joseph had even one other person near him that shared his belief in the one true God. But the LORD remained faithfully with him. 

We aren’t given any insight into his private wrestling during that time, struggling to reconcile what he believed would happen with his life in Egypt. We only know that he believed God and honored Him with his life. Even Pharaoh and his court described Joseph as a “man so obviously filled with the Spirit of God” (41:38). Those many years in Egypt were the training ground where the LORD was shaping his heart and tuning his song. We catch a tiny glimpse into his heart in how he named his two sons. Joseph proclaimed that God had made him forget his troubles and his father’s family—God had made him fruitful in the land of his suffering.

As we follow along in Joseph’s story, his rise to power, his brothers coming to Egypt to buy food and not recognizing him, and Joseph’s dealings with them, we come to the climax in which he reveals himself to his brothers: “I am Joseph! … Don’t be angry with yourselves… It was God who sent me here ahead of you to preserve your lives (v.3,5). After a deeply emotional reunion, wagons were piled high to carry the brothers home to tell Jacob the news that his son was still alive and would care and provide for the entire family in Egypt for the remainder of the famine and beyond.

Years later, in Genesis 50:14, we read that Joseph’s brothers still carried a weight of fear and guilt, concerned that he would retaliate after their father’s death. But Joseph said, “Don’t be afraid of me. Am I God, that I can punish you? You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people. I will continue to take care of you and your children” (v.19-21). He spoke kindly to them and reassured them.

He extended abundant, gracious hospitality and care, committing to take care of them personally for as long as they needed it. All of this was freely offered without hesitation to the very men who brutally disregarded him, attacked him, robbed him, intended to kill him, and sold him, callous to what he might experience after that moment.

How is this possible? It is not in our human nature to move beyond our hurt and pain or our ache for justice, to look malice in the face and respond with kindness—not just civility or doing the right thing out of integrity, but kindness! Generosity! Reassurance.

What happened in Joseph’s heart in the 20+ years he spent away from his brothers? We don’t know. But if I had to guess, Joseph took his questions and his pain to the LORD, who slowly healed those wounds. Despite his own heartaches, he deeply regarded the eternal, unchanging character of the heart of God. His heart responded in willing sacrifice, to be used as God planned to further His purposes.

And Joseph realized what the LORD didn’t do. He never abandoned His own. He never left Joseph’s side, personally, but He also went to great lengths—decades in the making—to prepare a way to preserve the family who would become His own special people, the nation of Israel. 

At some point along that journey, Joseph had to surrender his long-held hurts, his ache for justice, his grief over all that he’d lost. He may even have repented of understandable anger or holding ownership of his own dreams. Repentance and surrender are so freeing and pave the way for true forgiveness to happen.

He no longer held his brothers responsible for his pain. He trusted the LORD and His perfect plan all along, rightly acknowledging and responding to the authority of God. He was free to simply extend mercy, grace, and mysterious kindness that can only come from God’s Spirit.

Can not the same Spirit of redemption that arrested our own hearts and drew us to saving faith also fill us and overflow in grace toward others? Unexpected kindnesses may seem mysterious and other-worldly to those on the receiving end, because they are!

This is a mysterious, wondrous kindness to us as well, that the LORD would welcome us to be used in His purposes and that He would position us to operate with the heartbeat of our Father—to know the joy of rejoicing with all of heaven when another soul is touched and won to the Savior! He not only gives us a remarkable and God-exalting story to tell, but intersects our story with someone else’s, so we can marvel in His grace together. These are moments that truly cause our spirits to soar and our hearts to sing, joining the chorus of praise to our God!

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