In today’s ubiquitous social media, a breaking news story may go viral, quickly reshared by an exponential number of growing viewers. Millions of reshares later, the original source and origin of the story may be murky, but given these enormous number of views, it may be accepted as truth. Yet, how often do we discover the initial incident we heard was not the complete story? The examples are numerous and only rarely does a social media outlet recant their initial story once the entire truth unfolds. It is human nature to grab on to the sensational rather than wait for confirmation of the truth. The opposite is also true. Sometimes a story is presented that may seem inconsequential but later revelations may paint a more grisly picture. The Bible contains an example of a story like this.
In the book of Genesis, we read the account of Joseph’s wrongful imprisonment, falsely accused of making a sexual advance on his master’s wife.
And Joseph’s master took him and put him into the prison, the place where the king’s prisoners were confined, and he was there in prison. But the Lord was with Joseph and showed him steadfast love and gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison.
Genesis 39:20-21 (ESV)
With a superficial reading, it seems as though Joseph’s time in prison was a breeze. God showed him favor and love, he must have been very comfortable! The cynic may dismiss the story averring that the writers of the Bible would only present a rosy picture of imprisonment pertaining to one of the heroes of the Bible. Only hundreds of years later, do we learn the complete story as revealed by the Holy Spirit, speaking through the writings of the Psalmist.
When he summoned a famine on the land and broke all supply of bread, he had sent a man ahead of them, Joseph, who was sold as a slave. His feet were hurt with fetters; his neck was put in a collar of iron; until what he had said came to pass, the word of the Lord tested him.
Psalms 105:16-19 (ESV)
God’s love and favor do not necessarily mean Joseph was spared the usual punishment and cruelty that awaited all prisoners. When I read the Bible, I sometimes gloss over details that may be quite obvious unless I took the time to reflect upon the situation. The Holy Spirit confirmed that Joseph did suffer and God did not sugarcoat a story simply to make a great hero of the Bible appear even more magnanimous.
Cynics and fake news have existed since the beginning of mankind and although this moniker has gained modern notoriety and even pejorative overtones, the concept is nothing new. A Bible story that may have dubious merit will ultimately be shown to have credibility when viewed within the entire context of the Bible. Only the Bible holds up as the absolute Truth when placed under the magnifying glass of the critic and believer alike.
Love and trust the Lord; seek His will in your life.