The extremes of life nurtured Joseph into adulthood. Joseph knew what it was like to live with a large family and also with loneliness; he knew freedom and slavery; isolation and social inclusion; injustice and power; trauma and reconciliation; abundance and famine.
We do not know if Joseph was living with disabilities. What we do know is that God and Joseph knew each other. God knew the details of the traumas and injustices Joseph experienced. God never forgot Joseph. Knowing God made Joseph resilient. God also gifted him with the abilities to interpret dreams.
Further, our passage reminds us that Joseph became a public servant and implemented an impressive food security strategy which famine-proofed Egypt and surrounds. Joseph was a blessing to his community.
What does the Joseph story mean for us?
As with Joseph, God knows our needs intimately and never forgets us. God can guide us and teach us how to bless others around us, regardless of our situation. How do we know this?
One way we know is through people’s testimonies about how God is currently guiding them. Joel’s is one such testimony (details anonymised). I met Joel through the Rural Anglican Churches’ ”Engaging with People Living with Disabilities” research project (CBM’s Luke14 program was one of the wonderful partners with this project). Joel lives with multiple impairments. Similar to Joseph in the Bible, Joel’s formative years were at times complicated. As a child, Joel went to a school that specialised in teaching children living with disabilities. He found reading and writing hard and often had falls. People felt Joel could not learn, and he left school early. In reality, Joel learns differently.
Joel, now an adult, attends multiple Bible studies and church services. He loves to learn. He also thinks it is essential we all know the Old Testament because the Bible teaches us to be “kindful”. Joel explained that because he is a Christian, he volunteers at a Kids’ Club and youth group, opens the community food service for local people, is on church rosters and mows the lawns of people who need help – for free. Joel desires that people know they are not alone and that Jesus blesses us and brings us into a relationship with God. Joel, in his way, blesses his community and makes it a more “kindful” place. God is with Joel.
What can the stories of Joseph’s and Joel’s lives teach us?
Their lives remind us that God is with us. The truth is that complexity, (dis)ability and trouble do not define us. God matters, and His enabling makes us resilient. Everyone can choose to celebrate knowing God and blessing those around them.
Thanks to God, and similar to Joseph and Joel, you and I have a yesterday that makes us resilient, a today to bless others and a tomorrow for which to plan.
My prayer is that you will remember God loves you and that you are never alone.
Monica Short is a lecturer and social science researcher at Charles Sturt University, including investigating, in partnership with CBM-Australia’s Luke14 program and Bush Church Aid, the experiences of people living with disabilities engaging with rural Anglican Churches.
Monica is a proud member of the Anglican Church of Australia, is married to Mark Short, who is the Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Canberra and Goulburn, and has two adult children.
Application – Practising Hope
Today’s invitation is to… consider donating to support CBM’s work with people like Kazol and her community in Bangladesh.
Respond as a church this week by… inviting a person with a disability to share their testimony.