Why are the innocent victimized? Where is God in the midst of evil and suffering? These questions arise when we consider the reality of injustice in our world. We began this month’s study devoted to understanding God’s character and work; He defends, cares for, and restores the vulnerable and marginalized, and He is righteous judge, king, creator, and redeemer. Now let’s turn our attention to examples of God’s character at work in the lives of people who faced suffering and injustice.
Joseph could be a poster child for a life fraught with injustice at every turn. As you read Joseph’s story, notice parallels and repeated themes. Joseph is favored by his father, so his jealous brothers plot to kill him and sell him into slavery (Genesis 37). Joseph is favored by Potiphar, whose seductive wife falsely accuses Joseph and has him thrown into prison (Genesis 39). Joseph is favored by the prison warden and promoted to a position of authority (39:21–23). While in prison, Joseph interprets the dreams of Pharaoh’s servants, but misses his jailbreak opportunity when the cup–bearer forgets to vouch for him (Genesis 40). He remains in prison two more years (41:1)! Yet when he interprets Pharaoh’s dreams, Joseph receives the promotion of a lifetime. As the predicted famine spreads, Joseph’s brothers travel to Egypt to buy food. After several perplexing exchanges between Joseph and his brothers, several trips back and forth from Canaan to Egypt, Joseph finally reveals his true identity, initiates reconciliation with his family, and reunites with his father, Jacob (Genesis 43–46).
Beyond favoritism, promotion, deceit, and maltreatment, another essential thread runs through Joseph’s biography. In the midst of suffering and injustice, God is with Joseph (39:2–3, 21, 23; 41:38–39), and Joseph recognized God’s power, presence, and providence (39:5–9; 40:8; 41:16–28, 32; 45:5–7). “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives” (50:20).