I can’t speak for you but, for me, suffering often makes me selfish. Pity party of one, anyone? It’s often really hard to notice the troubles of others when we’re in the midst of something ourselves, right? This brings me to Joseph.
Just to set the stage, Joseph had been sold into slavery by his brothers, wrongly accused of inappropriate conduct by an angry woman, and unjustly thrown into prison. While in this prison, two other men who “committed an offense” against the King of Egypt were also incarcerated. The two men had dreams which were confusing and troubling to them. The next morning, Joseph noticed that they were troubled.
Imagine that you are innocent of any wrongdoing and are locked up with two men who are guilty of an offense. Would you even notice if those men were “troubled?” Joseph noticed. He looked at the men and truly saw them. His suffering did not blind him to the suffering of others.
I don’t want my suffering to be a source of distraction, but a source of compassion. May it cause me to see others more clearly. May it guide me to treat others more gently. May it remind me how vital it is that people in pain know that they are seen.
I’ll be honest; on my best day, I’m one of the least observant people you’ll meet. Throw in a little affliction and I can become oblivious to the world around me. But Joseph’s story is a great lesson in loving others well even, or especially, in the midst of suffering.