The Story of Joseph: God Helps Us

Part 1 of a 5-part family devotional by Brent Lanigan

As of this writing, it has been 11 weeks since our world went into the daily reality of quarantining and social distancing. Before March 12, very few of us had ever heard of COVID-19 or the terms related to it – such as flattening the curve and personal protective equipment. And now, almost 3 months later, living in a COVID-19 world has become our regular routine.

But getting used to living in a world with rules and protocols related to COVID-19 does not make things easier, does it? Our lives have been drastically interrupted by this virus and it has caused us a lot of heartache, frustration, fear and anxiety.

At times like this it is important to turn to the Bible and draw strength and hope from the stories of biblical characters who went through similar duress in their lives but saw God carry them through it. Specifically, I think of the story of Joseph in Genesis 37, 39-45. Over the next 5 devotionals, we will discover what we can learn about God from Joseph’s life. Are you ready? Let’s begin…

Part 1: God Helps Us

Genesis 37:3-4; 12-14; 18-20 (ICB) Joseph was born when his father Israel, also called Jacob, was old. So Israel loved Joseph more than his other sons. He made Joseph a special robe…Joseph’s brothers saw that their father loved Joseph more than he loved them. So they hated their brother and could not speak to him politely. One day Joseph’s brothers went to Shechem to herd their father’s sheep. Jacob said to Joseph, “Go to Shechem. Your brothers are there herding the sheep. Go and see if your brothers and the sheep are all right. Then come back and tell me.” Joseph’s brothers saw him coming from far away. They said to each other, “Here comes that dreamer. Let’s kill him and throw his body into one of the wells. We can tell our father that a wild animal killed him.”

Story Snippet: Joseph’s dad Jacob was not aware a) of how angry his other sons were at Joseph and b) how hurt they were because Jacob had made Joseph his favorite son. As Jacob did not grasp how his actions had affected his other sons, he was oblivious to the hurt he had caused them and so could not understand how deeply they hated Joseph. And because the brothers’ deep hatred of Joseph went unchecked – that is, they did not want to ask God for help in dealing with their painful emotions – their hatred made them want to do a terrible thing to Joseph: kill him.

Lesson For Us

Perhaps right now you are feeling angry, upset or frustrated. Maybe you are angry at God because you think he should have done something to prevent COVID-19 from happening. Maybe you are upset because you miss being at church or at Circle of Friends or at your day program. Maybe you are frustrated at having to stay home all the time. If we are not careful, the negative emotions that we feel can make us stay angry at God and keep us from loving him like we should. And if we are not loving God like we should, then we will not want to pray to him and ask for help to take away our anger and frustration. We will just continue to feel unhappy and miserable – just like what happened with Joseph’s brothers. And that is not a very fun way to live at all. So whenever you feel angry, frustrated or unhappy, remember to ask God to help you change your negative emotions into positive ones and he will!

Verse To Remember

Praise the Lord, day by day. God our Savior helps us. Psalm 68:19 (ICB)

Questions to Discuss

1) Why did Joseph’s brothers want to kill him?
2) Instead of being angry and feeling hatred toward Joseph, what should the brothers have done?
3) If you are feeling angry and frustrated because of COVID-19, what should you do?
4) How do we ask God for help?


Dear God, help me keep from getting angry and frustrated about COVID-19. Help me to remember that I can talk to you about how I feel and that you will help me because you understand how I feel. Help me to remember how much you love me. Amen.