Joseph’s life and character stand in sharp contrast to that of his father Jacob. When Jacob had the opportunity to testify before Pharaoh, he sounded almost cynical:
And Jacob said unto Pharaoh, The days of the years of my pilgrimage are an hundred and thirty years: few and evil have the days of the years of my life been, and have not attained unto the days of the years of the life of my fathers in the days of their pilgrimage. (Genesis 47:9)
Given the troubles he faced – many of them self-inflicted – his words are understandable but sad.
Joseph had his share of troubles, too, but his testimony is a positive one despite his hardships. His, however, were not self-inflicted. The troubles he faced were at the hands of others. Self-inflicted troubles or not, Joseph, unlike his father, always trusted his circumstances to God and had a brighter outlook because of it. He also had a more vibrant testimony.
Joseph grew up in a largely dysfunctional family and still came out of it with a life lived for God. How? Because he determined in his heart to trust the God of his fathers. As troubled as Jacob’s life had been, surely, Joseph learned from the words and testimony of his father what a great God they served. Somewhere along the way, Joseph learned to look past his circumstances to the God of heaven and that helped him to rise above his problems no matter what they were. If anything, the life of Joseph teaches us that we are not prisoners to our past or our upbringing. By God’s grace, we can learn to rise above our setbacks. We can learn to be better than our past.