I was an escapist reader growing up. I would dive into a novel and live the life of the heroine. Life wasn’t always cheery. Nowhere near it actually. And it gave me a reprieve.
I’m thankful for the healing I’ve received in Christ. I have nothing to escape from now. But as I read the Bible, I still find I put myself in the place of the person. How did they feel? What were they thinking? What would I have done?
Take Joseph, for instance. He was the favored son in a wealthy family. A bit spoiled, perhaps. Being groomed to lead the family. God gave him some dreams. His brothers were going to bow down to him. Until they threw him in a pit and sold him as a slave. (You can read the whole story in Genesis 37.)
What was he feeling? Relieved to be alive? Wishing they had just killed him? Petrified? Abandoned? Rejected? They threw him away like a piece of trash.
What was he thinking?
“I always knew my brothers hated me, but this? Really?”
“What did they tell my father?”
“Will anyone try to even find me?”
“God, why did You let this happen?”
He watched his brothers pull him out of the pit. Hope came alive. I’m sure he thought they were just trying to teach him a lesson until they sold him as a slave. All hope was lost.
He got sold to Potipher, captain of Pharaoh’s guard. You don’t get to be the leader of someone’s army without being somewhat intimidating. A tough guy. I’m sure he had muscles on top of muscles. Oh the thoughts that must have gone through his head.
Joseph went from being the favored son to the lowest slave overnight. His whole world changed. He didn’t know the language. He didn’t know the culture. Nothing and nobody was familiar to him. All he had was the God of His fathers.
Here’s just a couple things to chew on about the life of Joseph:
Slavery prepared him
We pray, “Lord, let us be in the right place at the right time. Never in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
What we mean is an easy place and a happy time. And if we find ourselves in a tight spot, we pray, “Get me out of here!”
That’s a natural desire and a normal response. Unless slavery is part God’s plan.
Here’s the thing about being a slave in Potipher’s house. Joseph’s ultimate calling was to lead the nation of Egypt and rescue God’s people from a famine. And God used slavery to get him ready for it.
It’s where he learned the language. He learned their customs. He observed their eating habits as he worked in the kitchen. He got promoted up through the ranks of slave to be Potiphar’s personal assistant and was exposed to every aspect of their culture.
He would eventually know how much food each household would need to survive because of what he learned as a slave.
Prison positioned him
As far as slavery goes, Joseph got promoted to be the top slave in the house. Not too shabby. He wasn’t a favored wealthy son anymore. He was a favored slave and God prospered him, but it could have been worse.
Oh wait, it got worse. Potipher’s wife lied about him and he got thrown in prison. And not any ‘ole prison. The KING’S prison. Rats. Sewage. Behind bars. No freedom.
But the Lord was with Joseph in the prison and showed him his faithful love. And the Lord made Joseph a favorite with the prison warden. (Genesis 39:21)
God didn’t deliver Joseph FROM prison but He was with him IN prison and caused him to succeed right where he was. Why? God needed him in prison to be able to promote him.
The rest in a nutshell: He interpreted the dreams of Pharaoh’s butler and baker. He asked the butler to plead his case to Pharaoh, which he did not, and he was left in prison for two more years.
Finally, Pharaoh has a dream. The butler tells him about Joseph. He calls for Joseph. God uses Joseph to interpret the dreams and gives him a wise plan on how to survive the famine.
Joseph goes from the prison to the palace overnight. His brothers come and bow down to him and they all move to Egypt and live with Joseph.
God’s covenant people are rescued from the famine and certain extinction so that God’s word can be fulfilled thousands of years later that Messiah would come through them. And they lived happily ever after. The end.
If Joseph hadn’t been in that prison to interpret those dreams, Pharaoh would never have known about him. He was definitely in the right place at the right time, but I’m sure it didn’t feel like it at the time.
So what did we learn here today, class?
–Prepared. Positioned. Promoted. It all came from prison. Sometimes God prepares us and positions us in the places we’d rather avoid, not necessarily the easy ones.
–If you’re in a tight place that looks opposite of the dream God put inside of you, it may actually be God getting you ready for what’s next. If Joseph hadn’t learned what he learned as a slave, he wouldn’t have been ready to lead the nation.
And he couldn’t have learned it without getting himself to Egypt. And he needed a little assistance from his brothers to get there. Selah –
–If all you have is God, you have all you need. He’s faithful. He’s with you. You’re going to make it. More than that. You’re going to thrive.
–If we’re wondering what’s taking so long, why you’re stuck in this difficult place for so long, like Joseph when he was left forgotten in prison for 2 years, be encouraged.
Maybe God is positioning you there because that’s where promotion will find you.
What would have happened if the butler would have pled Joseph’s case to Pharaoh and what if Pharaoh would have freed him then? He would likely have hightailed it out of Egypt, gone back home, and not been where he needed to be to fulfill the plan of God. He would have missed the whole thing.
I’ve said it before. I’ll say it again. Trusting God means trusting His plan. Trusting His timing. Even when we can’t understand how what we’re going through could possibly prepare us for the dream He’s put in our hearts.
My husband worked at a garbage dump for years…YEARS…before ultimately becoming a worship leader. And he hated it. It beat up his flesh. A lot. It stunk. He stunk. Long hours in the frigid winter temps and soaring summer heat that made it stink even more.
He moved trash around all day long. Trash. How could that possibly prepare someone for ministry?
But if you ask him where he learned to worship, he’ll tell you it was in that truck at that dump while his flesh cringed every second of every day.
God doesn’t waste anything in our lives. He’ll use it all if we let Him. If we surrender to His plan, trust His timing, and stay faithful to what He’s put in our hearts even when it hurts.