Did Joseph Forget?

Did Joseph forget about his suffering? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Joseph does manage to escape prison when he’s thrown in by impressing the Pharaoh by interpreting his dream. The Pharaoh places Joseph second in command in Egypt and gives him a wife. Joseph has two sons through her and the oldest is named Manasseh while the youngest is named Ephraim.

Ephraim refers to being fruitful. We can understand that. Joseph is having a very fruitful time in Egypt. However, the name Manasseh is given because Joseph says that he has forgotten the suffering that he went through. He had forgotten his trouble and his father’s household.

Had he? When Joseph’s brothers show up not too far down the road, Joseph does remember them. He knows about them. If he’s able to talk about his father’s household, surely he hadn’t forgotten about his father’s household. Besides that, Joseph should have good memories of his Dad who favored him.

It’s my contention that sometimes when the Bible uses the word forget or remember, it doesn’t mean what we often think it means. In the flood, it says God remembered Noah. It’s not that God is looking down at the flood and sees that ark floating and thinks “Noah! I forgot all about Him!” Instead, it means that God returned his focus to Noah.

If that’s what it means to remember, then that would mean that Joseph had a new focus in life. He was not thinking about what happened growing up and how his brothers mistreated him and all the time he spent in prison. Instead, he was focusing on the future.

Joseph had come to see that God was with him in everything regardless of how his life was going. One day he’s in prison and has been forgotten by everyone. The next day, he’s the second in command in Egypt. The reader knows that God has been with Joseph granting him favor in the eyes of all who see him the whole time, but Joseph does not have that outside perspective. He is living the story that we are the spectators of.

Joseph having children is a sign to him that things are working out. God has allowed him the honor of having a family and having descendants. These are things he would have missed out on also if he had not been faithful in the house of Potiphar.

Speaking personally on this, divorce has been the worst event I have ever gone through. Something that has kept me going is a saying that I have heard before and I don’t remember where, but it’s that the best revenge is a life well-lived. I have decided I don’t want to be a victim of my past. I want to rise above. When I go to work, I try to see it as just a stepping stone. It is one spot on my journey and somehow it will lead to another and God has me here for a reason just like he had Joseph in prison for a reason that he didn’t understand.

After all, picture if Joseph had never been sold into slavery and then never been picked by Potiphar and then never thrown into prison. He would never have been made known to Pharaoh. He would never have led Egypt and the world would have suffered a famine. Joseph could have died anyway then. Every step of his suffering was used by God.

Joseph no longer had his focus on the past. He was looking to the future. Paul said the same in Philippians 3. He was forgetting what was behind and looking to what was ahead.  (Ironically, what was behind him was pretty good actually. It just didn’t compete with Christ.) Maybe we should all do the same.

It’s something that keeps me going in this.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Thinking About 9/11 And Our Past

What can we learn from this day? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

As I start to write this blog, it’s about 8:42 in the morning EST. I think it was around this time that Professor Wheeler came to us as we were sitting in the gym area of our Bible College where morning worship took place as this place could seat the whole student body. Before the sermon, he said to pray for the people of New York. A plane had just hit one of the World Trade Center towers.

There was no panic or anything. I doubt people were thinking we were under attack. I sure wasn’t. I don’t even remember a discussion about it going on around me so we went and had our worship service. After that, the announcement came that the second tower had been hit by a plane. Now it was no longer an accident of some kind. This was an attack.

9/11 is a day where we always look to the past. Lately, this has been quite a contentious topic in America. We have scores of people who want to take down statues of our past and change street names related to our past. I haven’t said much about it, but I do not support such an action.

You see, 9/11 taught us something. It did show us a way that we were vulnerable and now we have improved on that to make sure it doesn’t happen again. Having suffering come into your life for a reason can be a tragedy. Not learning from it so that you repeat the mistake is even worse. If you do not learn from your mistakes, why should you not expect to repeat them?

We can’t erase 9/11. We can’t rewind the tape and undo it. Many of us have things from our recent history that we would love to go back and get to do them over again. It’s useless to wish for. You don’t have that ability. The best you can do is look at the event and see what you can learn from it.

It’s also useless for us to stay in the past and beat ourselves up over it. It happened. It would have been nice if it hadn’t, but it did happen. If it was for some sin we did, we repent and move on and agree to do better. No further punishment is needed for Jesus took it on for us. If it is for something that happened to us, we learn how to better prepare ourselves for next time. The past can be a great teacher for us.

So now we get to the craze today of removing statues. It would be nice if we could go back in time and remove the failures of our past from us, but we can’t. Slavery happened and there’s no changing that. No one today though is responsible for what happened in the past. The more we try to punish people today for what happened, the more we make ourselves live in the past and hold people responsible for what they did not do.

Our past can be ugly, but it cannot be erased. We can live like it didn’t happen, but it did. If we act like it didn’t happen, we are more prone to make the same mistakes. To hold up the statues is not to celebrate the past, but to acknowledge it. none of us should want to celebrate what happened.

When we remember 9/11, we don’t celebrate what happened. We remember it. Where we are the ones guilty of a sin, we have grace for ourselves and repent and move on and celebrate the grace of God. Where we have been wronged and put in danger, we learn from the past and say we won’t repeat it again.

Today, we’ll be thinking about 9/11. Part of our yearly ritual on this day is to watch the World Trade Center movie. We also ask that you thank God for the people you know in your life who are first responders. If you’re reading this and you’re a first responder, thank you for your service.

And if you’re reading this and you lost someone in 9/11, my sympathies go out to you. Nothing can ever really change this day. We can only say what was said long ago, that we will rebuild and live on. Never forget the past, but don’t let it be a place of permanent residency. This goes for all of us. May we all have grace and live our lives today. We don’t dare act like it didn’t happen. It happened and it mattered and the lives of those who died will never be deaths in vain.

In Christ,
Nick Peters