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Jacob, now named Israel, had 12 sons. His second youngest son was named Joseph.
At first, life seemed very good to Joseph. Joseph’s dad made him a special coat just for him with many beautiful colors. Red, Blue, Yellow, Green, Purple, Orange. It was so beautiful.
Around that same time, Joseph had a dream that one day he would become an important ruler over many people, even his father, mother, and brothers. He liked that dream.
Joseph felt very loved and close to his dad and to God. He felt up, up, Up! Happy, carefree. Life was so good.
But these same things made Joseph’s brothers jealous of him. They were jealous of his Red, Blue, Yellow, Green, Purple, Orange coat. And they were mad at him for saying that he had a dream where he would be their boss. They thought, “We are older than you. Why should you ever be OUR boss?”
One day when all of the brothers were out in a field, and their dad was not there to see them, his brothers did a very mean thing. They pushed Joseph into a deep, dark, scary, black pit! And, they also took his beautiful coat. Then, they sold him to be a slave in Egypt.
Could it be that the reason Joseph ended up in the pit was because of the boys’ mommas, Rachel and Leah? These boys grew up with those yucky jealous seeds all around them. If you plant jealous seeds, you get a jealous harvest. God warns us to not to let bitter roots grow up and poison people. Blech! God is going to work all this out for the good, but I just wonder what things could have been like if those mommas had planted only LOVE seeds with each other and the children, instead of those jealous ones. They could have.
As a slave, Joseph had no choice but to do very hard work for his owner, Potiphar.
Joseph did not think life felt quite as happy and good as it had before. The situation seemed down, down, down. But, Joseph trusted God with all his heart and decided to do good things and work hard no matter what was happening — good or bad, happy or sad, up or down.
Eventually, Potiphar began to see Joseph was a man who could be trusted because God’s Blessing was with him. That means that even though things didn’t feel fun to Joseph, to everyone else their lives went up, up, up when Joseph was around. So, Potiphar put Joseph in charge of everything in his house. Joseph became the most important of all the slaves.
Life started to seem up, up, up again!
But then, Potiphar’s wife tried to get Joseph to do a bad thing. Joseph said, “NO WAY! I am NOT going to sin against God like that.” And he ran away from her so, so, so fast. Well, that made her mad, so she lied about Joseph to Potiphar and said that Joseph DID do the bad thing, even though he didn’t!
Potiphar was so angry that he threw Joseph into the deep, dark prison. And Joseph didn’t even do anything wrong!
At first, Joseph started to feel down, down, down. But, then, he STOPPED and quickly remembered that no matter what, he would serve God cheerfully and trust God with all of his heart.
Because of Joseph’s good attitude, even in the prison, God smiled on Joseph and made him helpful to the people around him. The person in charge of the prisoners liked Joseph. He could tell that God was with Joseph, so he put him in charge of the other prisoners.
One morning two of the prisoners looked sad. One was a baker and one was a waiter who used to serve the Pharaoh. When Joseph asked why they were sad, they explained to him that they had both had scary-feeling dreams.
Joseph said, “God can help us understand dreams. Please tell them to me.” They each told Joseph their dreams and God helped Joseph explain to both of them what their dreams meant.
The baker’s dream meant down news for the baker. But, the waiter’s dream meant up news for the waiter because the Pharaoh was going to let the waiter out of prison so he could be his waiter again. So, Joseph told the waiter, “When you go serve the Pharaoh, can you tell him about me and try to get me out of here?”
But when the waiter went back to serve the Pharaoh, he started only thinking of himself and forgot all about Joseph in the prison.
Now Joseph really wanted out of prison, but he was stable. Do you know what that word means? Stable means that regardless of what he WANTED to happen, he kept smiling and loving and serving God and the others in the prison. It didn’t matter if life went up or down, up or down… Life wasn’t meant to be or feel the same all the time. Joseph simply served God with a good attitude no matter what happened. Joseph didn’t need a reward for doing the hard things, because making God happy WAS his reward.
Joseph waited in prison for 2 more years. Then one day, the Pharaoh had a dream that he was trying to understand, but he couldn’t. He was asking everyone in his court. Then, all of a sudden the waiter remembered Joseph. He told Pharaoh, “I know a man who can help, his name is Joseph. He understands dreams.”
So Pharoah called Joseph up out of the prison. Joseph told Pharaoh everything his dream meant: “There are 7 years when everything is going to look up, up, up. There is going to be soooo much good weather and yummy food in the land. More than you will need. Then there are going to be 7 years where things are looking down, down, down. There is going to be bad weather and NO food growing in the land.”
Pharoah said to Joseph, “Oh no, what should we do?”
God gave Joseph the plan. They should save enough food during all the UP, up, up years, so that they have enough food left during the DOWN, down, down years.
Pharoah thought this was a good plan. “Joseph,” he said, “You should be in charge of the WHOLE LAND to make sure we gather and save enough food for those down, down, down years.”
When the down years came, guess who needed food? Joseph’s father and brothers ALL needed food. So, they had to go to Egypt to ask for food.
And, guess who was in charge of all that food in Egypt?! Joseph!
Even though Joseph’s brothers had been so mean to him, he forgave them and made sure they had plenty of food for their families. And, not just their families, but ALL the families in the whole land.
That made Joseph feel up again! He was so happy that he was crying. He wasn’t happy because he was finally boss over his brothers instead of a slave or prisoner. Joseph was happy because he could see that God had put him in just the right places at just the right time!
In some ways, it turned out good that Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery, and that the mean woman lied about him and he ended up in prison. If those things hadn’t happened, he wouldn’t have been there in Egypt to save his family and all the people.
So Joseph learned, that whether life seemed up, up, up or down, down, down, there was no reason to be emotional about it, because God knows what is BEST — the whole entire time.