When I think about a teenager today facing what Joseph did after being sold off by his brothers, I shudder to imagine how they would respond. In reality, Joseph probably wasn’t much different—spoiled by his father, he wasn’t subjected to the same amount of hard labor as his brothers. He was a dreamer who didn’t know when to keep his mouth shut. Somewhere between Dothan and the heart of the Egyptian kingdom, Joseph was forced to grow up.
Hard times can prove a school God uses to teach us.
This was certainly true for Joseph, and as we begin his story proper in the thirty-ninth chapter of Genesis, it is obvious that the Lord had plenty of time to speak to the young man as he walked around 300 miles from the place he’d been sold to Egypt. For when he is bought from the Ishmaelites by Potiphar, this verse is very telling:
The Lord was with Joseph, and he became a successful man, and he was in the house of his Egyptian master. His master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord caused all that he did to succeed in his hands. So Joseph found favor in his sight and attended him, and he made him overseer of his house and put him in charge of all that he had. From the time that he made him overseer in his house and over all that he had, the Lord blessed the Egyptian’s house for Joseph’s sake; the blessing of the Lord was on all that he had, in house and field. So he left all that he had in Joseph’s charge, and because of him he had no concern about anything but the food he ate.Genesis 39:2-6 ESV (Emphasis added)
How is it, I wonder that the boy who couldn’t seem to stop dreaming and shooting off his mouth is suddenly in charge of an entire household in Egypt? Slavery and a very long walk obviously made an impact.
Being blessed by God doesn’t always mean life is easy.
Joseph is not only still a slave, but he’s also slandered and subsequently arrested based on the testimony of his master’s wife. After all he’d learned from God and applied to his life, Joseph still winds up in prison. God’s favor doesn’t guarantee a lack of hardship.
Even so, my actual gem for today is found at the end of this chapter. Now thrown in prison, even when his master wasn’t thrilled to lose him, Joseph is confined to the place where the king’s prisoners are jailed. Yet, God is still with him.
But the Lord was with Joseph and showed him steadfast love and gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison. And the keeper of the prison put Joseph in charge of all the prisoners who were in the prison. Whatever was done there, he was the one who did it. The keeper of the prison paid no attention to anything that was in Joseph’s charge, because the Lord was with him. And whatever he did, the Lord made it succeed.Genesis 39:21-23 (Emphasis added)
This chapter of tough times begins and ends with the same reminder: The Lord was with Joseph. Here, however, there is an added phrase: The Lord showed him steadfast love. This is the hesed love of God that he pours out on those who follow him. This is the love we have from God today.
Are you walking in the wilderness of life, struggling, imprisoned by poor decisions or isolation from others? No matter your present location or circumstances, if you know Jesus and are chosen by him, he is with you, his steadfast love remains, and he will give you his favor. It may not look like much to you, but to those who don’t know Him, they cannot help but recognize God’s hand on your life, whether you stay imprisoned or not.
Joseph made an impact for God while a slave and while a prisoner. Don’t let the circumstances of your life hinder you from the same to God’s glory.
Grace and Peace