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I'm scared! The life of Joseph

To look at God’s promise to be with us always.

by Susan MacLean

Suitable for Whole School (Pri)


To look at God’s promise to be with us always.

Preparation and materials

  • Flashcards with the names of different fears (see section 2).
  • Prepare a quick recap on the story of Joseph so far.


  1. Say that people are scared of all sorts of things – ask the children if they can think of any things people are afraid of. (Look for fear of the dark, of spiders, of heights.)
  2. Show the following flashcards and ask if anyone knows what fears these words refer to:

    –  arachnophobia  (fear of spiders)
    –  astraphobia  (fear of thunder and lightning)
    –  agoraphobia  (fear of open spaces)
    –  claustrophobia  (fear of confined spaces)
    –  ablutophobia  (fear of washing or bathing)
    –  didaskaleinophobia  (fear of going to school)
    –  peladophobia  (fear of bald people)
    –  hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia  (fear of long words)
  3. In the Bible there’s a long story about a man called Joseph. He was sold into slavery by his brothers, and ended up in Egypt. Eventually, after warning the king that there would be a famine, he was put in charge of all the food supplies in Egypt. (You may wish to ask questions to recap the story so far.)
  4. Today, Joseph’s half-brothers are scared. Let’s see why.

    Joseph’s brothers are standing in front of him. For a second time they’ve come back to him to buy food, and now they’ve brought their youngest brother Benjamin with them. Benjamin had not been born when Joseph had been taken down to Egypt. The brothers still don’t recognize Joseph.

    Joseph can no longer control his feelings in front of his servants, so he tells them all to go so that he can be alone with his brothers. When the servants have left, he says: ‘I’m your brother Joseph. You sold me as a slave to go to Egypt.’

    The brothers are dreadfully afraid when Joseph says this. Can it be true? Will he pay them back for the terrible way they treated him all those years ago? They have good reason to be afraid.

    But Joseph surprises them – he says that even though they sold him as a slave, everything that happened to him was God’s plan for his life. He says: ‘Don’t be worried. God sent me here ahead of you to save people’s lives.’

    He tells his brothers to go home and get their dad, Jacob, and tell him that Joseph is alive and in charge of all the food supplies in Egypt. They are to tell him to move to Egypt with all his family and animals. Joseph will look after them in the five years of hunger that are still to come.

    Joseph cries for joy and hugs his brother Benjamin. Then Joseph kisses and hugs each of his brothers. He doesn’t hold any grudges against them.

    The brothers go off to their father and tell him what has happened.

    Jacob is shocked but he believes the brothers and he says, ‘My son Joseph is still alive. I will go and see him before I die.’

    And that is what he does. The family are reunited after a long and difficult time for them all.
  5. God was with Joseph throughout his life. Joseph knew this, and trusted God during the hard times.

Time for reflection

Joseph’s brothers were scared when they discovered who Joseph was – they remembered the way they had treated him so many years before.

We all get scared sometimes, so we should understand when someone else is scared, and try to help them. 

Christians believe that God can help us when we tell him about our fears.

Thank you, God, for the story of Joseph.
We thank you that even when things looked really bad for Joseph,
you were always there for him.
Thank you that we can speak to you when times are tough.  


‘I am planting my feet in the footsteps’ (Come and Praise, 103)

Publication date: January 2013   (Vol.15 No.1)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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