Joseph has always been my favorite character in Hebrew scriptures. (In fact, the very first talk I gave in ministerial school was on Joseph.) I’m pleased that the new Narrative Lectionary I’m working with from now through May is focused on Joseph this week—specifically, on his unjust imprisonment.
Here’s the thing that always just kills me about Joseph. He’d had it rough! Sold into slavery by his own brothers, then unjustly accused and imprisoned. Now, we know, looking back on the story from a long, distant perspective, that it’s all going to be OK. We can see, in our imagination, beyond the dark prison cell to the sunshine of the Pharaoh’s love and trust and a life lived in service and luxury.
We have to stop and force ourselves to realize that things looked very different from the perspective of Joseph in the prison cell. He doesn’t know there’s a happy ending waiting up ahead. He has no reason to believe that he’ll ever be released from prison , ever see his beloved father again, or that anyone will ever know what happened to him. Have you ever been in a situation in which it seemed that bad luck and hopelessness were going to endure in your life forever, as far as you could tell in the moment? It’s not a happy place to be!
Joseph is mostly known for interpreting dreams, but that’s not the point. The point is that he never allowed himself to become a victim, even though that’s exactly how he seems to us today. He accepted where he was, moment by moment, without grieving or raging. He looked around to see how he might be helpful in the prison—how to make the best of his situation. And that positive energy is what led him to the Pharaoh and his important spiritual path.
We can’t know what will happen in the future. Sitting around waiting for things to improve is a waste of energy and focus. Where is the Good in this very moment? It’s there—it’s always there—if we’re willing to stop feeling sorry for ourselves and recognize it
My constant mantra for today will be ‘Show me the Good!’ I AM grateful in advance for the love, the pleasure, and the opportunities to be of service to others that I will enjoy today as a result.