Remember the Technology Tuesday last week on The Secret Life of Pets? We mentioned a guy, you may remember from the Old Testament, by the name of Joseph. He’s the one with the brothers. And the coat. Actually, the jealous brothers. He’s the one Max and Duke, from the movie could relate to. And he’s the one our 2nd-4th grade camp teaching was based around.
Genesis 29 tells the story of Joseph. We used the version from the Jesus Storybook Bible that ends with:
“But Joseph looked at his brothers and his eyes filled with tears. Even though his brothers had hurt him and hated him and wanted him dead – in spite of everything – he couldn’t stop loving them. His heart, which they had broken, filled up with love, and Joseph forgave them. Joseph threw his arms around them. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Behind what you were doing, underneath everything that was happening, God was doing something good. God was making everything right again.” Joseph didn’t punish them, he rescued them – he brought God’s special family to live safely with him in Egypt. One day, God would send another Prince, a young Prince whose heart would break. Like Joseph, he would leave his home and his Father. His brothers would hate him and want him dead. He would be sold for pieces of silver. He would be punished even though he had done nothing wrong. But God would use everything that happened to this young Prince – even the bad things – to do something good: to forgive the sins of the whole world.”
You remember the story:
The recap, in Melissa’s words: “Joseph is the favorite of all of his brothers. He has a dream where they’re all bowing down to him—which he happens to mention to his brothers. We all know how bragging goes over. His jealous brothers take the special coat his father gave him and throw him into a well, leaving him for dead. Circumstances build on another. He’s tempted and has integrity in the midst of that temptation. He ends up a prince, presiding over who receives food in the famine. His brothers came from Israel because their nation was affected by the famine. They do end up bowing down to him, begging him for food. And when they do, he tearfully forgives them.
Each of these parts of Joseph’s life come together to make Joseph…Joseph. In effect, they’re different pieces of his life—pieces much like a jigsaw puzzle.
We all have these pieces of our lives, too. Sometimes, those it’s hard to tell where those pieces fit. We’re not sure how they come together. It’s kind of like when we’re working a puzzle. In order to put the puzzle together, we really need to see the whole picture. It tells us how each of those pieces come together to make a whole. God is the one who puts the pieces of our lives together in the same way. He knows the big picture of who each of us are and He’s going to use every one of those pieces to make a picture of us.
Some of the pieces represent hard things for us. Some happy. When you’re young, there aren’t quite as many pieces. As you get older, there are lots more. But God is completing this puzzle and putting them together. Some of the pieces might be who your grandfather is or was…where you live…what pets you have…what makes you sad or angry.”
We asked these questions to help the kids talk about their puzzle pieces. They’re great ones to talk about with your kids, too:
When was a time you felt happy?
When was a time you felt sad?
When was a time you felt angry?
What’s your first memory? What feelings do you have when you remember it?
When was a time you felt loved?
What has made you worried?
When was a time you really got in trouble?
When was a time you felt like a failure?
Is there something that has changed you? What?
Who was your first friend? What feelings do you have when you think about them?
What has hurt your feelings?
What do you love and not love about school (besides subjects)?
Who has encouraged you in you life?
When did you first learn about Jesus?
Melissa, again. “In Genesis 29: 2-3 and 21-23, the Bible repeats four different times that God was with Joseph. He was with him during every piece of Joseph’s life, just as He is with you in yours.
…when he became a prince
…when he was blamed for something that he didn’t do
…when he had a hard time with his brothers
…when God took care of him
God used all of those pieces to make up who Joseph was. In fact, Joseph was who he was because of those very pieces. Just like you. And God used even the hard pieces to make a better, bigger picture.
Joseph’s picture is of him as a loving, forgiving, heart-broken prince whose heart was ultimately full of love for his family. He was a prince that points us toward a prince that would come later. As the story says, another prince whose heart would be broken but, ultimately, was a heart full of love—for us.
As our pieces come together, there will always be one piece that’s missing. No matter how much good has happened in your life, how happy you’ve been…you know the feeling. Somehow, it just always seems like something is missing, even though you feel loved and cared for. You have a birthday party and then melt down, because it didn’t make you feel like you thought it would. You’re surrounded by friends, and still feel a little lonely. It’s that missing piece.
One day, many years after our story in Genesis, God would send another prince, besides Joseph. His heart was broken, too, but it was filled up with love—for you. He was accused of things He didn’t do. He had a hard time with the ones He loved. And God took care of Him, too. He is your missing piece. He is the one who knows your heart, hears your prayers, and wants to be close to you in every moment—every piece of your life. In fact, He’s the one who brings all of our pieces together. He sees the picture of who you are—He created the picture of who you are. And He is turning every piece—the happy ones and the harder ones into something He will use in your life. “
“You planned to harm me, but God used those same plans for my good.” Genesis 50:20
“…Every detail in our lives of love for God works into something good.” Romans 8:28
God is working in every piece of your puzzle right now. You don’t see Him, so sometimes it can be hard to trust Him. But He’s there. He’s with you. He loves you and has big plans for you that no one else could fill. You are the only you and you are loved so much by our prince and Savior, Jesus.