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Finding Joy in Joseph’s Journey

12:45 pm Thursday, May 12, 2011
by christa woodall

Latter-day Saints LOVE Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Blame it on the show's witty lyrics and catchy tunes, the blend of Broadway and Bible, or an affinity for all things Osmond, but Joseph has got to be one of the most frequently produced shows in the State of Utah (not to mention by LDS congregations nationwide).

This summer I'm joining the ranks of the "Tribe of Joseph," so to speak, as a wife in a community theater production of Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber's famed musical. Upon listening to the show's soundtrack - the Donny Osmond version, of course - repeatedly, I get goosebumps every single time as Joseph reveals himself to his brothers. Were it not for the brothers' duplicitous, cruel selling of their brother into slavery years before, Joseph's life would not have taken the path that would lead him to Egypt - and yet, because of it, he's not only able to save the Egyptians during the famine but to provide for the tribes of Israel as well.

This tale, almost more than any other in scripture, reminds me that there is "method in the madness" in the unexpected twists and turns life can take. It brings to mind a verse from the Book of Mormon:

And I do this for a wise purpose; for thus it whispereth me, according to the workings of the Spirit of the Lord which is in me. And now, I do not know all things; but the Lord knoweth all things which are to come; wherefore, he worketh in me to do according to his will. (Words of Mormon 1:7)

How often is it that we face circumstances we simply cannot understand? Why were the Israelites led to Egypt for a place of refuge, only to become slaves in need of liberation under God's miracles and Moses' leadership four generations later? That this would be the case wasn't unforeseen - it was told to Abram in Genesis 15. What, then, was the purpose behind it? Why all the process and hardships and wanderings in the wilderness before Abraham's progeny could finally inherit Canaan as promised?

I think more often than we realize, the lessons we are to learn in life are more in the journey than the destination. Just as physical muscle cannot be developed but by lifting weights and exercising resistance, character-defining qualities like patience, meekness, empathy, and understanding cannot come without trials, tribulations, and tests that force us to rise to the challenge. Keeping that perspective in mind helps me to endure with patience and tenacity the monkeywrenches that inevitably get tossed in my path.

At the end of the heartbreaking first act of Joseph, our protagonist sits perishing in jail - but, surprisingly, he's not discouraged. "I know the answers lie far from this world," he sings in "Close Every Door." "Children of Israel are never alone - for I know I shall find my own peace of mind. For I have been promised a land of my own." Likewise, when all hope seems lost, I find comfort in remembering that I'm nowhere near the finale of my own life - I'm still in the middle, somewhere between Act I and Act II. There's still a lot of plot to get through before things make sense, but, inevitably, they do somehow - and the promise of Canaan's refuge lies ahead in the future.

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Tags: Broadway, Osmond, musical, Latter-day Saint, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Tim Rice, Joseph, Egypt, Book of Mormon, Genesis, Canaan

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