(February 20, 2014)
There are two lessons to be learned from these chapters in the behavior of Joseph. The first is the importance of not condemning those who offend us. After all, Joseph could easily have condemned his brothers. They wanted to kill him, they sold him into slavery, and Joseph (as to the world) would have been justified to do likewise to them. But Joseph recognized that nothing could happen to him except the Lord permitted it – it was the Lord that had placed him in Egypt.
If we could emulate this, how much better off would we be? When something bad happens to us, we tend to condemn those by whom the bad thing comes (including ourselves). If, however, our faith in the Savior and His plan is perfect, we would understand that He loves us and yet He allowed this to happen. It must be for our growth and betterment. Thus the suffering that we feel was not caused by the one who offended us but was rather permitted by our loving Father to give us experience and put us in the position to achieve our eternal destiny. This is a hard lesson to internalize, but imagine the power that we would have if we could learn it.
The second lesson is how we deal with those who believe differently to us. Joseph, by all indications, was a righteous man – so we can assume he treated his wife well. Yet her father was a pagan priest. I can only imagine what dinner would have been like with the in-laws if it were me, but I cannot imagine that Joseph would have behaved in an antagonistic way towards Poti-pherah. Maybe I am reading too much into this, but I think that we should all remember that we are on the same side looking to give our love to the same Almighty God (even though we may struggle to find Him in different places and ways).