Highlights for Genesis 37-41
Joseph of Egypt has a profound story. Reflecting on Joseph’s life and example has brought me great strength through the years. There are very few of us who could endure Joseph’s setbacks and hardships with grace and faith.
In Awe of Joseph
Let’s look at Joseph’s timeline.
First, his brothers hate him and plot to murder him (not to mention all the snideness he’s already experienced). Have you ever been on the receiving end of such extreme hatred? I have, and it is the most unnerving, awful set of emotions! After throwing him down into a deep pit for several days, his brothers decide to sell him as an enslaved person to a foreign culture.
Some of us are acquainted with our immediate families’ lack of love and regard. Nephi experienced it as well. Do not ever feel less esteemed by heaven because of such circumstances. Some of the best who have ever lived endured similar difficult beginnings.
Not only did Joseph suffer cruel jealousy from his brothers – he went from the beloved son of a mighty, wealthy prophet to a slave. This alone is beyond the comprehension of most of us. When Joseph gets to Egypt, he works his way up in the world through hard servitude, only to be framed for rape and cast into prison. He remains there for years.
Perhaps stop and absorb that one…framed for a crime and serving prison time for it? How many of us would be throwing in the towel with such clear evidence God is either not there or He does not care? Yet, Joseph Smith and even Christ experienced those same tragedies.
Joseph remains faithful, and not only that… he keeps going and works his way up in the prison world. In short, he makes lemonade out of lemons – which is a perfect description of faith.
I think Neal A. Maxwell may have coined it best when he said, “the question is not ‘why me?’ but rather ‘what now Lord?’
When the tide turns for Joseph, it turns. He becomes one of the most powerful men in their ancient world – with great fame, fortune and family. He then commands the respect of those who formally antagonized and opposed him, including his brothers.
It seems the lesson of opposites is guaranteed in our lives. We must experience misery to comprehend joy fully. Faith is the sustenance and power with which to navigate the trying phases in our lives.
Faith is also the opposite of fear or giving up; it’s the opposite of becoming resigned to an inferior fate. Instead, faith is a call to action and courage.
Action and Courage
2022 and the coming years will require action and courage, both spiritually and emotionally. Are you ready?
In chapter 41, we first read about Pharoah’s dreams and the seven years of plenty and the seven years of famine. Through inspiration and preparation, Joseph navigates a whole country through this catastrophe.
Why should this story matter to us? Because history repeats itself. Feast and famine are the Lord’s repeating patterns in the scriptures. Similar circumstances for the latter days are foretold in the Doctrine and Covenants.
And there shall be a great hailstorm sent forth to destroy the crops of the earth. (D&C 29:16)
Yet people don’t take these warnings seriously or prepare for them when they easily could. Why?
It’s something called normalcy bias. We haven’t experienced a particular type of natural disaster, so we disbelieve that it’s happening until the consequences are too late.
Here is a definition from Google – see if the perspective feels familiar:
The normalcy bias, or normality bias, is a cognitive bias that leads people to disbelieve or minimize threat warnings. Consequently, individuals underestimate the likelihood of a disaster, when it might affect them, and its potential adverse effects.
What is an example of normalcy bias? For example, a normalcy bias makes it difficult for us to engage in “worst-case” thinking and plan for a serious failure or disaster. A normalcy bias causes us to assume that, although a catastrophic event has happened to others, it will not happen to me.
Joseph’s considerable efforts to prepare for natural disasters are an important example for us to follow in 2022. Food shortages and crop failures are prophesied for our time. Chaos and failing government structures are predicted for our time. Are you ready?