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Genesis 39:1-23, Blessedness Despite Injustice

Narrative Lectionary Key Verse for Today

And Joseph’s master took him and put him into the prison, the place where the king’s prisoners were confined; he remained there in prison.
— Genesis 39:20

NL Daily Devotion for Sunday, September 23, 2018

Text here, if relevant.

by Dr. Kimberly Leetch, Clergy Stuff

Kid: “That’s not fair!”

Parent: “Well, life’s not fair.”

We’ve all heard it, probably more times than we care to remember. We all know it in our heads. But our hearts continue to fight this reality. How often has a boss chewed us out for something our coworker did? Or the IRS taken more than you have to give? Or a driver passed you by to do a zipper merge when it was your turn? How many imaginary arguments have you repeatedly won or lost because you played out the scene in your head over and over again before ever even speaking with the person face- to-face?

Joseph’s situation was most certainly not fair. He had done everything right, but was still punished (by people, not God). Not only was he innocent of the charges brought by his master’s wife, but he had intentionally avoided that particular crime. He had refused her advances but was sent to prison for it anyway.

But we have the gift of hindsight. We now know thatJoseph’s time in jail put him in a position to come before the Pharaoh one day, which led him to become the second most powerful man in the land. What first looked like a terrible injustice led to a most amazing blessing. If he had responded to his imprisonment with anger, resentment, and bitterness, he never would have risen to the top, and he never would have impressed the Pharaoh’s servants. His groundedness and integrity helped him turn an unjust situation into a blessed one.

Maybe our lives would be more peaceful if we stopped trying to acquire fairness. Instead, we might look at our lives as a series of events—some more fair than others. But for every event we have a choice for how we respond to the event. Joseph chose to respond by behaving the way he always had—with responsibility, integrity, and compassion. These led to blessings greater than the injustices he endured. We will always face injustice. How we carry ourselves despite these injustices is within our control. When we behave with responsibility, integrity, and compassion, then it doesn’t really matter what happens to us; we are internally whole no matter what happens externally. We are blessed.

Narrative Lectionary Daily Reading:

Genesis 39:1-23

Now Joseph was taken down to Egypt, and Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, the captain of the guard, an Egyptian, bought him from the Ishmaelites who had brought him down there. The Lord was with Joseph, and he became a successful man; he was in the house of his Egyptian master.His master saw that the Lord was with him, and that the Lord caused all that he did to prosper in his hands. So Joseph found favour in his sight and attended him; he made him overseer of his house and put him in charge of all that he had. From the time that he made him overseer in his house and over all that he had, the Lord blessed the Egyptian’s house for Joseph’s sake; the blessing of the Lord was on all that he had, in house and field. So he left all that he had in Joseph’s charge; and, with him there, he had no concern for anything but the food that he ate.

Now Joseph was handsome and good-looking. And after a time his master’s wife cast her eyes on Joseph and said, ‘Lie with me.’ But he refused and said to his master’s wife, ‘Look, with me here, my master has no concern about anything in the house, and he has put everything that he has in my hand. He is not greater in this house than I am, nor has he kept back anything from me except yourself, because you are his wife. How then could I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?’ And although she spoke to Joseph day after day, he would not consent to lie beside her or to be with her. One day, however, when he went into the house to do his work, and while no one else was in the house, she caught hold of his garment, saying, ‘Lie with me!’ But he left his garment in her hand, and fled and ran outside. When she saw that he had left his garment in her hand and had fled outside, she called out to the members of her household and said to them, ‘See, my husband has brought among us a Hebrew to insult us! He came in to me to lie with me, and I cried out with a loud voice; and when he heard me raise my voice and cry out, he left his garment beside me, and fled outside.’ Then she kept his garment by her until his master came home, and she told him the same story, saying, ‘The Hebrew servant, whom you have brought among us, came in to me to insult me; but as soon as I raised my voice and cried out, he left his garment beside me, and fled outside.’

When his master heard the words that his wife spoke to him, saying, ‘This is the way your servant treated me’, he became enraged. And Joseph’s master took him and put him into the prison, the place where the king’s prisoners were confined; he remained there in prison. But the Lord was with Joseph and showed him steadfast love; he gave him favour in the sight of the chief jailer. The chief jailer committed to Joseph’s care all the prisoners who were in the prison, and whatever was done there, he was the one who did it. The chief jailer paid no heed to anything that was in Joseph’s care, because the Lord was with him; and whatever he did, the Lord made it prosper.


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