Genesis 37.12-36 – This message continues with the life of Joseph and deals with the part of his story in which he is captured by his brothers and sold into slavery in Egypt. Even though Joseph’s story seems to be going backward and downward, we see that this, too, is part of how God is leading him onward and upward. In being literally stripped of his ‘ornate robe’ he is figuratively stripped of his identity and put in a hole in the ground which seems like a hard stop on his life. What he doesn’t know, however, is that he will emerge from that hole a different person than he went in. As difficult as these experiences were, they were part of how God’s grace was moving him on and preparing him for a a new and greater work than he could imagine.
As applied to us, we find in this passage three key lessons: First, life can be difficult by design. God uses and even steers us toward difficult things in order to mold and shape us. Second, being built up may require being broken down. God will at times strip us of the things we have built in order to build something greater, more lasting, and to show that he is the true builder, not us. Finally, grace can see in the dark. The fact that we have limits to our vision and understanding does not mean that God does. Though we may only see darkness, God sees us and the way out; he has a purpose in all things: to glorify himself and to make us holy.