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Hope in Hard Times

Advent 2020: December 9
Hope in Hard Times Hero Image Hope in Hard Times Hero Image
Scripture:

“So when Joseph came to his brothers, they stripped him of his robe, the robe of many colors that he wore. And they took him and threw him into a pit. The pit was empty; there was no water in it.

“Then they sat down to eat. And looking up they saw a caravan of Ishmaelites coming from Gilead, with their camels bearing gum, balm, and myrrh, on their way to carry it down to Egypt. Then Judah said to his brothers, ‘What profit is it if we kill our brother and conceal his blood? Come, let us sell him to the Ishmaelites, and let not our hand be upon him, for he is our brother, our own flesh.’ And his brothers listened to him. Then Midianite traders passed by. And they drew Joseph up and lifted him out of the pit, and sold him to the Ishmaelites for twenty shekels of silver. They took Joseph to Egypt…”

“When Joseph's brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, ‘It may be that Joseph will hate us and pay us back for all the evil that we did to him.’ So they sent a message to Joseph, saying, ‘Your father gave this command before he died: “Say to Joseph, ‘Please forgive the transgression of your brothers and their sin, because they did evil to you.’” And now, please forgive the transgression of the servants of the God of your father.’ Joseph wept when they spoke to him. His brothers also came and fell down before him and said, ‘Behold, we are your servants.’ But Joseph said to them, ‘Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. So do not fear; I will provide for you and your little ones.’ Thus he comforted them and spoke kindly to them.” (Genesis 37:23-28 and 50:15-21)

Devotion:

Have there ever been times in your life when it seemed like nothing could go right for you? When you tried to do the right thing, but it ended up going wrong? Or when you thought you were on the correct path, only to have the door slammed in your face?

Joseph had several of those times in his life. He sat in a deep, dark pit after his brothers had beaten him up and thrown him in. They were going to sell him to some people for silver, who would drag him off to Egypt. His brothers would then tear up his coat, dip it in blood, and tell his father he had been killed by a wild animal. Why was this happening to him?

Was Egypt part of God’s plan? Everything went well for Joseph while he worked for Potiphar, but then he was falsely accused of a crime he didn’t do. As he sat there alone in a dark prison cell, he couldn’t understand why this was happening—but he continued to trust the Lord. God still had a plan, right? But what was it?

God did have a plan for Joseph. God used him to interpret Pharaoh’s dreams and help Egypt prepare for a famine, saving the lives of many people. Joseph was brought out of prison and put in charge of all Egypt! And his family, who had betrayed him? God had a plan for them as well. God brought them to Egypt so that Joseph could save them, give them food, and provide them a place to live. He used Joseph to keep His promises. God was always in control. And as Joseph told his brothers, “you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good.”

Many years later, someone was going to come from that family to keep all God’s promises. He would be sold for silver, betrayed by those closest to Him. He would be arrested even though He hadn’t done anything wrong. He would be killed and sealed in a dark tomb, but then come out of the darkness back to life to save His people! His name was Jesus.

Questions:
  1. How does the story of Joseph point to the story of Jesus? How are their stories similar, and how are they different?
  2. How did God take what people meant for evil against Jesus—His crucifixion—and use it for good?
  3. How has God taken hard times in your life and used them for good?
Family Activity:

Jacob gave Joseph a beautiful coat of many colors which, along with his dreams, made his brothers jealous and angry. Draw a picture of Joseph’s coat on your ornament today to remind you that God always has a good plan. Pray for the hard things you have in your life right now. Read Romans 8:28 and thank God that He still takes hard and painful things in our lives and uses them for His glory and our good.