view as web pdf The Lord Was With Joseph

Three times the bible assures us of this truth (see title, Genesis 39:2,21,23). This is an outstanding statement when we consider the context in which it is given. Anyone observing Joseph's life form from a distance would conclude that God must have been against Joseph, or at least had forsaken him. He was kidnapped by his own brothers and sold into Egypt to become a slave. He seemingly accepted his circumstances and uncomplainingly served his master. Later, his master's wife, after repeated attempts at seducing him, falsely accused him of attempted rape. Believing her accusations, his enraged master put him in prison. Even the butler, released from prison, forgot to mention Joseph to the king. By all appearances, God had utterly forsaken Joseph.

What kept Joseph from giving up in discouragement? The Lord was with him and assured Joseph of His presence in little ways behind the scenes. When he was a slave, the Lord made all that he did to prosper in his hand. The Lord blessed the Egyptian's house for Joseph's sake. Even his ungodly master could see that the Lord was with him. Joseph had another proof of God's presence, when he found grace in his master's sight (Genesis 39:49). Things could have been much harder than they were. God was with Joseph and was carefully monitoring the intensity of Joseph's difficulties.

After the tremendous humiliation and disappointment of imprisonment, God again proved His divine presence. The Lord showed him mercy and gave him favour in the sight of the keeper of the prison (39:21). Instead of treating Joseph harshly and putting his feet in the stocks, as he could have done, the keeper committed to Joseph's hand all the prisoners (39:22). He was given privileges the other prisoners did not have. The Lord made that which he did to prosper (v 23).

Joseph could have easily become bitter against his life and against God. He could have said, "This is not fair. Why do I need to go through this?" He probably would have said this if he had focused only on the bad situations in his life. But Joseph had learned to find and track God's hand of mercy in his life in the midst of the hard things.

Why did God allow these hard things in Joseph's life? God had a plan for him. Later on Joseph saw plainly the unfolding plan of God. God had an explicit purpose for all that He had allowed, including what the evil people did to him. We too need to learn to find God and the reassurances of His presence in the middle of hard experiences and disappointments. What really is the most important thing in life? That everything goes nice and easy? That we have plenty of money? That the world smiles its approval on us? No, one hundred times, No. To have the Lord with us and to love, with His smile of approval and blessing, is by far the most important.

Think about it: Joseph was rich, even if he was a penniless slave. He was free, even though he was in prison, because the Lord was with Joseph. Compare his freedom to that of his brothers and Mrs Potiphar. They were probably always on edge fearing that someone might find out the truth. They were not free. A person with a guilty conscience is never really free.

The lesson? Always live to please God and have a conscience free of offence, no matter what difficulty and affliction it brings us. In all of life, claim the presence of God. Trace His hand of mercy and care in the middle of hard experiences. After all, He has said, "I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee".

Bro Uka Egwu (Ohafia, Nigeria)

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