I sat in the school drop-off line with my daughter the morning after one of her soccer games. We were both weary and frustrated by the outcome of the game, and she was telling me about all the things that didn’t go according to plan. It was an extensive list that included everything from having to change jerseys to a bumpy field to poor officiating and pushy players. And every offense began with: “It’s not fair…”
As much as I agreed with all of her points, it was the words of one of her coaches that came to mind. During the game, as the girls sat on the bench feeling frustrated and slighted, their coach had some firm but gentle words for them. Blaming the outcome of the game on all of the “unfairness” would never help them grow as players and as a team. There are no drills to be run at practice that will make an official see everything fairly. There are no scrimmages that will change the way another team plays. Instead of focusing their energy and emotions on the things they can’t change, their coach encouraged them to look at what they could change.
It’s never easy to tell your child that life isn’t fair, but I’ve seen enough to know that this will not be her only disappointment or frustration. People will have favorites, classmates will take credit for work they did not do, someone else will be offered the promotion you worked hard for—and it’s enough to make you want to give up.
I’m sure Joseph’s brothers had their share of “it’s not fair” moments as they watched their youngest brother treated with blatant favoritism. It was hard enough to live with the fact that their father clearly loved Joseph the most, and now he was having multiple dreams that indicated that the entire family would one day bow down to him. It was too much. We’ll continue to read about what Joseph’s brothers chose to do as a result of their frustration, but it’s pretty clear that they focused on removing the cause instead of changing their hearts.
God was preparing the way for Joseph to be entrusted with so much more than even his dreams would indicate. Joseph would be the man who stood between life and death for all of Egypt, as God placed him in a position to prepare the nation for the coming famine. It was a plan that took many years of sacrifice and steadfast faithfulness in the small things before Joseph was ready for all that God had for him.