Joseph, son of Jacob, was not a normal guy. His story always has me wondering if he even was a real human being? He had every right to be a bitter, broken and angry man; but he wasn't. I don't understand?
Think about it a second: Sure his dad made him a nice coat but he never believed a word his son said. His ten older brothers hated him, threw him into a pit, and sold him as a slave. His boss' wife made moves on him, lied about him, and had her husband place him in prison with obviously false charges. So he sits in prison for 14 long years and scripture says all of this was God's doing.
Read that list again carefully, and let it sink in. Joseph had more than enough reasons to turn out to be a twisted man -- and in the eyes of our current psychological culture, we shouldn't be surprised at all if he ended up being one messed up dude. Our modern society would understand if he chose to sin to his heart's content and then in a self-rationalized fit of rage, pointed the finger of blame at everyone else:
"Hey, if you had the upbringing I had, you would hate people and unload on them too!"
"If you were sold as a slave, you also would demand some sort of reparations the rest of your life...wouldn't you?"
"C'mon, who are you kidding? If you were hit on by a rich pretty woman with power, you would sleep with her and not feel shame, right?"
"If God let you down like he did with me for 14 years by allowing me to rot in a miserable jail, you would stop believing in him too!"
Strangely, Joseph never used one of these excuses. Joseph never shook his fist at God and demanded answers. And Joseph never quit on life.
Instead of humbly persevering through trials like Joseph, our whole society is built on grievances. We feel sorry for the person who undergoes the smallest of slights, and we demand justice while excusing their often aberrant behavior. If a child is made fun of at school, instead of seeing it as the normal hi-jinx of growing up, we call it bullying and want to press charges. If a transgender man wants to go to a woman's bathroom because he had a messed-up childhood, we feel he has every right to express himself anyway he wants.
If a person doesn't want to make you a cake because you are gay, we sue.
Even as Christians, we feel forgotten by God when life turns difficult. Not only do we expect consistently smooth sailing through life, but we seem to get insulted at the least possible infraction. As a pastor, I have found that people love to hear about unconditional and abundant grace; but once you mention personal responsibility or obeying God's conditional commands, you know the "stop the legalism" war cry is about to be sounded!
We demand leisure and expect pampered care.
I recently read an article by a feminist journalist from the Huffington Post who actually blamed the God of Christianity for the proliferation of America's rape culture. In her victim mentality, she sees in the Virgin Birth a villainous God forcing himself on the vulnerable and helpless peasant girl Mary. In her warped worldview, God sending his Son was not a blessing, but an unforgivable wrong foisted on an unwilling innocent world. As a result, all the faults and ills of the world are to be laid at his feet.
Sure, this lady's belief is outrageous, but is is not much different than those who blame God for allowing any bad thing happening in their life. C. S. Lewis was right on the mark when he said, "The ancient man approached God (or even the gods) as the accused person approaches his judge. For the modern man, the roles are quite reversed. He is the judge: God is in the dock. He is quite a kindly judge; if God should have a reasonable defense for being the god who permits war, poverty, and disease, he is ready to listen to it. The trial may even end in God’s acquittal. But the important thing is that man is on the bench and God is in the dock."
Joseph allowed God the right to do with him what he wished. That is why he is not normal. Maybe, being normal is not a good thing after all?