Redemption and freedom from the past

A young man named Ryan Ferguson was freed late last year after spending nearly a decade in prison for a crime he did not commit (see The Huffington Post, November 13, 2013). When I first heard his story, I thought about the time he’d lost while in prison and how far behind he would be compared with his peers with regard to jobs and education. Despite his situation, Mr. Ferguson seems to be happy and optimistic about the future, rather than angry or frustrated.

As I thought about his story, I realized that it was similar to the Bible story of Joseph (see Genesis, chaps. 37-41). A young Hebrew man gets beaten and sold into slavery by his brothers. His master, Potiphar, trusts him and puts him in charge of his household. After a time, Potiphar’s wife tries to tempt Joseph into having an affair with her, and, after he refuses, she accuses him of attacking her. Although her false testimony gets him thrown in jail, Joseph ultimately helps Pharaoh interpret a dream. The ruler is so impressed that he makes Joseph second in command over Egypt. In this position of authority, he implements regulations that save Egypt and neighboring kingdoms during a famine.

This article originally appeared in the January 20, 2014, issue ofThe Christian Science Monitor.

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