Bad things do happen to good people.
Joseph was an obnoxious kid, but nothing in Genesis leads us to believe he was corrupt. Even the decision to share his dreams with his brothers was more a result of arrogant ignorance than meanness. He certainly hadn’t done anything that warranted being thrown into a pit and left for dead. He certainly didn’t deserve to be sold into slavery.
In Potiphar’s house, Joseph is loyal, trustworthy, successful, and morally strong. He earns great favor with Potiphar…
So Potiphar left everything he had in Joseph’s care; with Joseph in charge, he did not concern himself with anything except the food he ate. (vs.6)
His only crime is being “well built and handsome” and rejecting the sexual harassment of his boss’ wife. (vs.6-7) Regardless of years of dedication and loyalty, a few words of false accusations land him in prison…a consequence he certainly doesn’t deserve.
All we know about Joseph leads me to conclude that he is a good person. Still, bad things (horrible things) happen to him.
Two things stand out. First, Joseph finds favor with men, even when experiencing awful situations, beyond his control. This reveals so much. He has every right to be bitter and angry. He has every right to do a half-baked job as a servant, depressed by his plight and full of complaint. But instead, he conducts himself in a way that earns favor with Potiphar and great position in the household. (vs.4)
Bitter, angry people don’t earn favor. Complaining people, stuck in a cloud of self-pity (however justified), simply aren’t fun to be around. Joseph appears to accept his fate with humble dignity and make the best of it. He puts the past behind him and focuses on the opportunities at hand. He allows his good character to shine through the darkness of his situation…and it pays off.
Second, God never leaves Joseph. Four times in this short chapter we’re told that God is with him. We’re not told if Joseph actively seeks God, but we’re repeatedly assured that he isn’t left alone to deal with the ugly hand he’s dealt. What a picture of God’s love and care…behind the scenes.
May I have the heart of Joseph. Regardless of bad days and awful situations, my I be loyal, trustworthy and morally strong. May I be the sort of person who earns the favor of others, even when I have every right to complain. May I reject bitterness and anger, knowing that God is with me always, working behind the scenes. And may I choose to shine in the darkest of situations…always.