Have you ever suffered for doing good?
If you believe that never happens, just consider the story of Joseph in Genesis 37-40. Seventeen-year-old Joseph was a good boy! He seemed to do everything right, and he excelled in all he did. But Joseph had troubles — sometimes good people suffer even when they do good. First of all, being the youngest, he was the favorite of his father, Jacob. Not only that, God had especially anointed Joseph with the supernatural ability to interpret dreams. And his dreams indicated that he was far superior over his brothers — and they hated him for it. The hatred was enough for them to seek to kill him, but instead, they sold him into slavery and lied to their father, saying he had been eaten by a wild animal.
A traveling band of Ishmaelites, who were not friends of Israelites, bought him from the brothers and took him to Egypt, where he was sold as a slave into the house of a man named Potipher, a chief captain of Pharoah's court.
Joseph excelled as a housekeeper for Potipher, and as a result, he was placed in command of the entire staff of servants. Potipher was impressed with Joseph. But so was "Mrs. Potipher" for an entirely different reason. He was so desirable to her; she attempted to seduce him. But when Joseph did the right thing, and fled from her, leaving in her hand only his shirt, she accused him of rape.
Joseph was hauled into prison for many years. But while there, he continued to excel and to do good. (When life deals you some bad cards, keep on persevering.) He interpreted dreams for two men, a butler and a baker in Pharoah's court. They did something Pharaoh didn't like, so they landed in prison.
But Pharaoh was having a bad dream of his own — a weird dream about seven skinny cows eating seven fat cows — and seven scrawny ears of corn eating seven fat ears of corn. (Sounds like a dream one would have after having too many anchovies for supper.) But no one wanted to attempt to interpret the king's dream, because if they were wrong, it meant capital punishment for them.
But the king's butler told him of a young boy in prison who was very accurate at interpreting dreams, so the king sent for him. Joseph's interpretation of the king's dream was "spot on" — because God anointed him with the gift. The dream meant the kingdom must store up food for seven years, because seven years of famine would come to the land. But not only did Joseph interpret the dream accurately, he also had a plan for the king — namely to store up food in order to ride out the famine.
The king was impressed enough to name Joseph something akin to secretary of agriculture. It was quite a journey from being almost murdered by hate-filled brothers — falsely accused by the evil wife of Potipher, and being cast into prison and in due time, becoming a high-up in Pharoah's court.
Oh — but what comes next is the greatest "what goes around, comes around" story of the centuries. I like to imagine how the conversation went at Potipher's house around the dinner table the night after Joseph rose to such a high place of authority in Egypt.
"Honey," said Potipher. "Do you remember that young guy who was sent up for raping you? Well, he's my boss now!"
Paul Gauntt currently serves as the pastor of First Baptist Church of Palmer.