Over the week we have heard how the story of Joseph revealed God’s plan at work. A devastating famine affected Jacob and his family. Joseph was sold by his brothers into slavery and was taken to Egypt where he could, in time, supply food for his starving family. When Jacob realised that his son was still alive he travelled to Egypt to see Joseph once again. Because Joseph was such an important figure in Egypt he had Jacob bring his whole family with him to live there.
In time, this would turn out to be a very unfortunate move for them because when a new Pharaoh came to power the Israelites lost their royal favour. Over time they were deprived of any social status and put to work as slaves. What had become a dream of fortune-come-true turned into a nightmare of oppression. It seemed that God had sent these people into Egypt like sheep among wolves.
But God’s plan was still at work. God saw this purifying experience as necessary for the Israelites as a preparation for the extraordinary experience of the Exodus. Before coming to Egypt, the Israelites were nomads, they wandered about from place to place with no real sense of identity. Through the Exodus God formed them into his own special people and through Moses he made a covenant with them.
The authors of Scripture, inspired by God, saw the meaning of these events only after they had taken place. It was a sort of spiritual hindsight. In the same way, the meaning of our individual lives may seem vague at times. We are never absolutely sure whether we are following God’s will for our lives, or our own inclinations. As yet we don’t have the benefit of hindsight. But we do have the gift of faith. And in faith we must believe that God is forming and shaping our lives according to his wisdom, just as surely as he did for the Israelites.