Joseph said, "Now therefore let Pharaoh select a man who is discerning and wise, and set him over the land of Egypt."
Joseph has become Pharaoh’s dream analyst and Pharaoh trusts him implicitly. As those dreams increasingly symbolize a coming famine, Joseph tells Pharaoh it would be wise to appoint someone to help Egypt prepare for catastrophe. Because he respects and trusts Joseph, and knows him to be discerning and wise, Pharaoh "sets him over all the land of Egypt."
The next seven years are prosperous: "the earth produced abundantly." Joseph initiates a plan whereby food is stored in every city. After seven years, drought comes and famine spreads through the land. People are famished and cry out to Pharaoh for bread. Joseph takes charge, distributing food equitably to all people.
The narrator of this story repeatedly reminds us that the LORD is with Joseph, who is decisive, fair, and effective. He makes politically difficult decisions, storing up resources in a time of plenty. When disaster comes, he is prepared.
Where is Joseph today? Where is he in Haiti, in New Orleans, in Darfur? Where is a discerning, wise leader who makes tough economic decisions, who insists that we preserve our natural resources, who inspires us to share, to look beyond ourselves?
I have seen several "Josephs" at work in my community: a young doctor, also an ordained minister, who had a dream that the working poor could have affordable health care, and made it happen…a gentle (and forceful) woman doctor who coordinates a team to visit Haiti four times a year to care for handicapped orphans…a quiet, brilliantly effective woman who heads an enormous interfaith agency providing multiple community services to people who need them.
Thanks be to God for leaders like these: wise and discerning men and women who bring God’s compassion and justice to life.
For ancient stories that inspire us to look for, and to be, wise and discerning leaders, we thank you, O Lord. Amen.
Copyright © 2010 Margaret Jones.