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This is So Unfair

This is So Unfair

And Joseph’s master took him and put him into the prison . . . Genesis 39:20

Many of the inmates I care for in jail have been reincarcerated for parole violations. They were originally released from jail provisionally, but they failed to follow the conditions of their release and so, they ended up back in jail. Many in this situation feel quite strongly that the rules are dreadfully unfair. For instance, if an inmate has a drug-related charge, he may be sentenced to attend drug treatment as part of his conditional release So, he goes to treatment, but he doesn’t like his counselor, and he leaves. He then gets arrested for not complying with his conditions. Back in jail, he may blame the treatment counselor, his parole officer, the police, or the judge. He can object all he wants. He can even refuse to comply in protest of the rules. None of that changes anything though. His opinion simply doesn’t matter. He’s still going to jail because that’s how rules work.

Though I wasn’t incarcerated, I’ve done something similar in my faith. In my addiction, when God didn’t miraculously take away my self-destructive appetite or protect me from consequences, I grew angry at him, blaming him for my disaster. My resentment was absurd though, and it changed nothing. God made the world, and my disapproval of his plan meant little. The rules applied to me whether I agreed with them or not. It was only when I began to seek God’s will that I began to find peace, despite my circumstances

Joseph understood and accepted the rules of the world in which he lived. Today’s passage illustrates that Joseph simply had faith that God is in control, even when it appears he does not. In today’s passage, Joseph was imprisoned for something he didn’t do. He’d already been sold by his brothers into slavery. If anyone had cause to doubt God’s goodness or to be angry at him, it was Joseph. He’d followed God and still ended up as a slave in an Egyptian prison. He didn’t let his dismal circumstances deter his faith though and he didn’t get mad at God. Joseph just kept doing what was right, serving God by doing his job well.

We’re often terribly self-centered. We claim faith in God, despite all the awful things that happen in the world, but when awful things happen to us, suddenly our faith in God is shaken as we rage at God. We imagine that God’s plan must pass our approval and we erroneously believe that our happiness depends on our circumstances. When trials come – and they will come – we may shake our fist at God, but it does us little good. Or, like Joseph, we can seek God’s will for our lives, finding joy and peace in him, despite life’s terrible circumstances.

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