“By faith Joseph, when he was dying, made mention of the departure of the children of Israel, and gave instructions concerning his bones” (Heb. 11:22).
The life of Joseph speaks to faithfulness to God in all things—the little as well as the big matters of life. He was sold as a slave at the beginning of his adulthood, committing his future to God and never taking it back regardless of the challenges he encountered.
“In the bitter life of a stranger and a slave, amidst the sights and sounds of vice and the allurements of heathen worship, a worship surrounded with all the attractions of wealth and culture and the pomp of royalty, Joseph was steadfast. He had learned the lesson of obedience to duty. Faithfulness in every station, from the most lowly to the most exalted, trained every power for highest service.
“At the time when he was called to the court of Pharaoh, Egypt was the greatest of nations. In civilization, art, learning, she was unequaled. Through a period of utmost difficulty and danger, Joseph administered the affairs of the kingdom; and this he did in a manner that won the confidence of the king and the people” (Education, 52, 53).
Speaking of Joseph, the Bible says that he was a fruitful bough by a well (Genesis 49:22). He may not have been planted on favorable soil, but the external source of water provided through a well allowed him to grow. The implication is that the well was the reason why his branches flourished—so much so that they ran “over the wall.” His mission was not to be contained to the place where the tree belonged. It was to cross over to the other side. He was hated and shot at, yet he “remained in strength” (Genesis 49:24).
This mission of Joseph was not a common one. He was the source of the salvation of an entire nation. In order to accomplish this, the young man had to first become a slave and a prisoner. There was a high price to his usefulness. In God’s wisdom and love, Joseph was prepared through trial and difficulty. Yet these experiences were not wasted.
The course on suffering is not extracurricular in the field of success—it is the main subject. Through suffering, the heart of Joseph and the heart of God were bound together. One who suffered much was able to trace his life and conclude that God always stands by us. Among all the Bible narratives, Joseph’s circumstances would have given him good reason to confuse God’s preparation with abandonment. Instead he leaves behind the legacy of faith, saying, “ ‘God will surely visit you, and you shall carry up my bones up from here’ ” (Genesis 50:25).