Here's an at-home bible study to do with your household or friends. Many of the questions are accessible to all ages. There's a household activity at the end.
1. Describe a time you didn't like one of your family members. What made you not like them in that moment? What did you do as a result of your dislike for them?
2. Read Genesis 37:1-11. Joseph is one of Jacob's (also called Israel) sons. Joseph's brothers don't like him for at least 3 reasons. What reasons does this story give for Joseph's brothers hating him more and more?
3. What do you think of Joseph at this point? God's going to use Joseph to save his family and everyone from Canaan (modern Israel/Palestine) down through Egypt and possibly beyond. Why do you think God chose Joseph for this special role?
4. If you were one of Joseph's brothers, what might you want to do to Joseph?
Bonus. After Joseph told his dreams, Jacob "kept the matter in mind". Can you think of anyone else in the Bible who, after being told amazing stories, "pondered these things in their heart"?
1. Read Genesis 37:12-28. After 3 strikes, Joseph's brothers have decided he's out.
2. Reuben tries to come to the rescue. Reuben was the oldest brother, Jacob's firstborn. Why do you think Reuben tries to save Joseph?
3. Remember what you thought of Joseph earlier. Do you think Joseph deserved what he got?
4. When Joseph and his brothers meet again, Joseph will say, "Even though you intended to do harm to me, God intended it for good" (Gen. 50:20). Has anything bad ever happened to you that ultimately resulted in something good happening?
Bonus. Remember Joseph's dreams? God could have shown Joseph many different things in his dreams to help him with what was to come. Why do you think God gave Joseph dreams of his family bowing down to him?
Double Bonus. People often ask, "Why do bad things happen to good people?" What do you think of God instead using bad things to make good happen? Why do you think God chose this strategy instead of simply stopping bad things?
1. Describe a time you lied. What made you tell that lie?
2. Read Genesis 37:29-36. What do you think of Joseph's brothers? If you were one of Joseph's brothers, do you think you could tell a lie like this?
3. What do you think this lie will do to the brothers' relationship with their father? What do you think Jacob will do to them when he finds out his son is alive?
4. If you were Joseph right now, what would you be feeling? Do you think you'd be able to keep your faith at a time like this? What might help you trust God when things aren't going well?
Remember: This isn't the end of Joseph's story! His story is just beginning...
None of us like it when bad things happen. We call them "bad" for a reason. But God can see beyond our bad moments into the future good that might come from them.
Joseph will ultimately save the life of thousands from famine. Jesus ultimately travels a path similar to Joseph. Jesus will go to the Cross (a very bad thing), but God will use it to save the whole world (a very good thing).
As a household, come up with as many examples of good things that were only possible because something bad happened first. For example, in families with children, maybe the parents dated someone else and had a bad breakup. But because of that bad thing, they were able to meet their spouse, create a life together, and have the children they have (remember Garth Brooks' song, "Unanswered Prayers"?). That's a lot of a good things, isn't it!
Write down all your examples in a journal. Whenever someone is struggling with something really bad in their lives, pull out the journal. Talk through some of the things you wrote down, then pray to God, asking that good things would come from this bad moment as well.
Challenge: Include any examples from other people's lives as well, especially ones from Scripture. How many times in the Bible did God use something bad to make something good happen?
Remember: Just because God can use bad things to bring about good doesn't mean that we should do bad things. Using a bad situation to bring about a good result is very different from condoning evil. Just like God, our goal is always for good things to happen.