Genesis 39: How could God let this happen?

Today my Bible study asked me to do something interesting. In case you haven’t read my previous post, let me catch you up, then I’ll tell you what it is my study asked me to do.

I’m studying the last part of Genesis, over Joseph’s life, and in Genesis 39 it tells the story of how Joseph was seduced by his master’s wife. Joseph had been sold as a slave by his brothers, and eventually ended up as a slave in the house of Potiphar, the captain of Pharoah’s guard. Potiphar saw that Joseph was successful in all he did and truly had God’s favor, so he put Joseph in charge of everything he had. Potiphar’s wife thought Joseph was sexy, so she tried to seduce him, but Joseph not only refused, he fled from her and tried to stay away from her. But she ended up getting him alone, and as she tried to get him into bed he ran off, and she got a hold of his tunic. Probably upset that she didn’t get what she wanted, she accused Joseph of trying to rape her and used his tunic as evidence. Potiphar was understandably angry and had Joseph thrown in prison.  So, this leads up to what my study asked me to do:

Many people reading Genesis 39 would question God. If Joseph honored God, why didn’t God watch over him? Wouldn’t God be obligated to do so? Why did something bad happen when  someone was being good? Is that fair of God? How would you answer this? (If you know the remainder of Joseph’s story, don’t use it in your answer at this point.) Answer the question as if you were sitting in the prison with Joseph and he had just told you why he was there. — Precept Upon Precept: Keeping Your Focus When Your Dreams Are Shattered, Week 1, Day 5

I tried to answer this in two parts. The first thing I said was that I think it is completely fair to question God. In fact, I think he likes it when we are so emotionally wrapped up in Him that we are willing to just let it all out in His direction. The best Biblical example I could think of was David – I think at times David could be an emotional mess, and he definitely had his share of hard times. In Psalm 22, David wrote “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from the words of my groaning?” Did you catch that? David was questioning God – he was saying “why have let this happen?” Yet, as you may know, God called David a man after His own heart.

I know that not everyone agrees with me on this. I have a great example of the arguments that can arise on this topic. In late February and early March of this year, a Facebook friend of mine posted that an old college friend of hers was in the hospital and was septic, and she asked for prayers for her. I didn’t know her friend, but my heart went out to her – she was a young mother and wife, and she was in the hospital with a life-threatening problem. I kept up with the situation through a website called CarePages, where the family of this young woman would post updates periodically. Since so many people were praying for her, I thought it was a great idea to do the CarePages site – it gave everyone a place to keep up with what was going on even though they didn’t know this woman (like me). Well, it was a long ordeal, and they ended up having to amputate her legs due to the infection – the family underwent a roller coaster of emotions, I’m sure, but I could tell from their CarePages posts that they were strong in their faith in God, and they truly trusted Him. The young woman passed away a few days after the surgery, and although I didn’t know her I was deeply saddened, especially for her young daughter. A few days after the funeral, the family posted a song that someone had written about the whole ordeal called Some Explaining To Do. Here are the lyrics (copied without permission I might add, but the writer’s names are there, so hopefully no one will be mad that I posted this here):

by Lisa Aschmann & Karen Taylor-Good

Her faith was like a river, it ran so strong and wild
She was full of love and promise, and she was Your child
So why’d she have to suffer when she loved You so well
You must have had a reason………… tell

God, You’ve got some explaining to do
I’m not saying I’m over believing in You
But when I take my last breath and my life here is through
God, You’ve got some explaining to do

I believe that someday we’ll have a heart to heart
We’ll all sit down together, You’ll illuminate each part
And I’ll say….”OH, I get it, she was living out Your Plan”
But now it just seems mean, like we’re Play Dough in Your hands

God….You’ve got some explaining to do
I’m not saying I’m over believing in You
But when I take my last breath and my life here is through
God….You’ve got some explaining to do

Cancer & Columbine, earthquakes and tsunamis
Children who are starving cause land mines kill their Mommies
I swear from this perspective it sure looks hit or miss
I can hardly wait to understand all this

God….You’ve got some explaining to do
I’m not saying I’m over believing in You
But when I take my last breath and my life here is through

I hope to understand the gain that lies behind the grief and pain
I hope to hear in Your own words the reasoning for what occurred
I hope to have more than a hint of what this was and what it meant
I still believe in Your great works but God this really hurts

God, You’ve got some explaining to do

I was shocked at the comments some people were leaving! People were saying things like how the song was blasphemous and that we should never question God. I can’t help but think that these people don’t know the same God I know – the God who is “our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1). God is not so small that He can’t handle our emotions – He often shares our emotions!

Now, although it is okay to go to God with your emotions, I also believe that we should keep our emotions in check. We can’t make all our decisions based on emotions, because our emotions tend to be fickle. One moment we may be on the verge of tears over something, and the next moment we are happy – it all depends on the circumstances. But some decisions have to be made based on absolute truth – whether or not to murder someone when I am angry with them is a decision I make based on the fact that I know it’s wrong. If I relied on my emotions, I might just do it (just kidding…). So the second thing I would tell Joseph in this situation is to remember that “without faith it is impossible to please God” (Hebrews 11:6). And part of faith is trusting Him – faith is more than just simple belief. And we can trust “that in all things, God works for the good of those who love Him” (Romans 8:28).


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Filed under Bible Study, Genesis

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