The story of Joseph can only be understood in light of his family history. If you’re familiar with his life, you’re already aware of the dysfunction that flooded his home during his developmental years. While he is introduced to the reader as a 17 year old, his story began long before.
Joseph’s father, Jacob, spent most of his life living up to his name: “cheater.” He stole his brother’s birthright and blessing by deception. While on the run, he continued a life of deception under the watch care of his uncle Laban. There is great irony in the story as Jacob continually complains of Laban’s deceptive ways.
Joseph was born in Canaan to his parents, Jacob and Rachel. Jacob had four wives who collectively bore him 12 sons and one daughter. Joseph’s mother died in labor and delivery at the birth of his brother Benjamin. His upbringing was difficult. The wives never got along, his mother was dead, and he had 10 older half brothers who hated him. These brothers were rascals, characterized by brutal and ruthless behavior. Jacob was aware of what was going on, yet didn’t act. He was a passive, look the other way, kind of dad. He played favorites with his wives and his kids, which shouldn’t surprise us. After all, he had been a favorite himself.
The reason I recap the background is simple. There was something within Joseph that refused to allow all of the dysfunction of his home life and his formative years to become an excuse. He didn’t compromise or conform. It has been said, “Rivers and men become crooked the same way: by following the lines of least resistence.” That may have been true of his family, but Joseph was determined to live counter-culture to those closest to him. He said “no” to the status quo, and made no excuses. He was an overcomer.
What excuses are you hiding behind? Who or what are you blaming for your life and your circumstances?