I read this morning, in that classic, Education, about Joseph. Separated from his family at such a young age…
He couldn’t call, couldn’t write, couldn’t video-chat them. He missed his father, oh so much. He missed the time they would spend together. He missed hearing the timeless stories about the ladder with angels ascending and descending. He longed to hear Dad tell him, one more time, about how Grandpa Isaac, got together with Grandma Becca. And even though his brothers were mostly mean to him, he missed the security of having 10 older brothers.
I imagine how conflicted and confused he must have felt. It was his brothers that sold him into captivity, yet he yearned for their companionship. There’s just something about being with family! Sorrow just seems a little less bitter and joy a lot more jubilant. Night after night, throughout that trek to a strange land, and for months after he had settled into his slave job, he must have imagined, at each time of the day, what Dad, step-mom and brothers were up to.
Now a legal alien in a foreign country, with no prospect of ever being able to see his family again, Joseph worked hard, out of principle. His diligence was rewarded with promotion after promotion, but no fathomable promotion could land him back home with his family. Yet still he worked assiduously. Why did he work so hard? Even the highest ranking slave is still a slave. His elevation could not win him his brothers’ favor nor puff his father up with pride. No temporal gain would come from his diligent labor – he had to be working for the Lord and not for man!
As the years dragged on, he wondered if he’d even recognize Benjamin when next he saw him. What would he look like? He must be at least as tall as his elder brothers now! He wondered if Zebulun had married that girl he had his eye on. And how many kids Reuben now had. What did his Dad look like now? Although Dad was immortalized young in his memory, he would probably be needing a cane to walk with soon – the thought of it brought a shudder. Did his nieces and nephews even know about uncle Joseph who once was a part of their parents’ lives?
As I thought about Joseph, this morning, I realized that even when you got it bad, somebody got it worse! In spite of those nights when he would gaze at the stars with the realization that even if Dad were staring at the same stars, they were too far apart to communicate, Joseph lived his life for God. It was not to honor his earthly father that he worked so faithfully. Joseph was living for an Audience of One! So whether home or homesick, we must live for God.