I'm sure we are all at least somewhat familiar with the story of Joseph found in Genesis 37 & 39-45, even if that knowledge only comes from having seen the musical, Joseph and the Technicolor Dream Coat. Whether you have read the story hundreds of times or if it is all new to you, I encourage you to take some time this week to read it! But for now...let me do a quick recap for ya....
Our boy Joseph was the youngest in the family and is likely where the stereotype of the youngest being the parent's favorite began! To put it bluntly... the boy was spoiled. ;) Needless to say, his brothers weren't all that fond of him and decided to (ahem) "rid themselves" of their pesky little brother problem. A majority of the brothers formulated a plan in which to kill Joseph but his life was spared when, at the last minute, a passing group of travelers spurred the idea in their minds to sell their brother instead. With this plan, they were able to get rid of the "problem" AND make a little extra cash. It was a win-win in their eyes for sure. However, the sneaky plan of this band of brothers did not account for the favor of God working on Joseph's behalf.
As his brother go back home and tell their father quite the elaborate story about how their brother was killed when attacked by wild animals, thinking they are in the clear, God is working behind the scenes and setting Joseph up to take the lead in one of the greatest underdog, come backstories to have ever existed! You see, by God's providence, Joseph wasn't purchased by just anyone when he was sold into slavery. He was purchased by Potipher, an Egyptian officer who was the Captain of the Guard for Pharoah, and he was put to work right there at the center of the Kingdom! Over time, Joseph's dedication and hard work were noticed and he quickly rose to the top of the leadership ranks in Potiphar's house.
Through an unfortunate turn of events in which Joseph is accused of sexual assault, he is thrown into prison where he is forgotten about by the key officials for some time. However, in that time, God continues to use Joseph and blesses him by giving him incredible favor with both the guards and the inmates. He remains in this role of prison servitude until one day when he is called up to the presence of the Pharaoh himself to help interpret a dream and is once again lifted into a place of extreme honor, serving the palace and God's people faithfully.
It was during this time that a famine devastated the area. People were coming from all over the land to ask for provisions from the palace and non-other than Joseph was in charge of helping meet those needs. The famine reached far and wide and had even greatly affected Joseph's father and brothers. To make a long story short - his brothers come asking for help, Joseph helps them, and God, through His amazing grace and providence, restores Joseph to his family.
Phew! Ok. That's a lot I know! And trust me, I left a TON of really awesome parts out so please go read it for yourself. But that gives you a basic overview of our boy Joseph and the insane roller coaster ride he was taken on in this crazy life! Clearly, there are SO MANY THINGS we can learn from him. Lessons about dealing with difficult family members (thank goodness non of mine ever tried to sell me into slavery...though I did make up a game called "maid" when I was a kid in which I convinced my little sister it was a fun game for her to serve me and do all of my chores....lol). Lessons about dealing with the difficulties of leadership (we've all had to deal with that difficult boss or co-worker). Even lessons about sorrow and loss (be that loss of position or relationship). But for now, I want to zero in on three key lessons Joseph's story can teach us, not about LIFE, but about the LORD! Are you ready? Let's go!
1. Joseph's life teaches us that the Lord is ALWAYS with us! How do I know? Because the scripture tells us that specifically! Shortly after being sold into slavery, as Joseph is rising in the ranks in Potipher's house, the Bible says in Genesis 39:2 that "the Lord was with Joseph". And in Genesis 39:21, as Joseph sat in prison for crimes he didn't commit it is again said that "the Lord was with Joseph. Through the highs and lows of life, in the Palace AND the prison moments, "the Lord was with Joseph." And the same is true for you! Because though people change and this world changes, our God remains the same. The Bible tells us in Hebrews 13:8 that God is the same yesterday, today, and forever! That means that the same God who walked with Joseph to the heights of success and sat with him in the darkness of prison is the same God that walks with you and me every single step of every single day! He was. He is. He will always be!
2. Joseph's life also teaches us that no matter if you're currently in the place or the prison, the Lord still has a plan and mission for your life! If you've followed me for very long I am sure you have heard me say more than once, there are NO wasted seasons with the Lord! Did you notice that the Lord was always working and moving in and through Joseph at every crazy turn of his journey? Sold into slavery and thrown into prison for a crime he didn't commit? No worries! God used that season for Joseph to minister to those around him, to prepare him for the next steps in his journey, and to show off in a way only God can when he raised him from the prison to the palace! Serving as a top and trusted leader in the Kingdom? There's God using that incredible platform to save a nation and restore a family! So no matter if you are living your best life or if you are currently questioning God on ALL the things of life, remember, God has a plan and God has a purpose. You are still treasured. You are still valued. You are still called.
3. Finally, Joseph's life teaches us that the hand of God extends into the lowest of dungeons and the highest of palaces. As we discussed before, throughout Joseph's story we see that repeating theme of "the Lord was with Joseph". That doesn't mean the Lord was just there on the sidelines, watching, waiting, and cheering from the stands. NO! God was out on the field calling the plays - working, moving, leading, and guiding! And as Joseph stepped out in obedience, He was blessing - giving wisdom and favor in every situation! My friends, can I just remind you that tough times do not always mean you have done something wrong just as amazing times do not always mean you have done it all right! Yes, all of our decisions in life have consequences. If you nix your responsibilities and don't pick up after yourself you are inevitably going to have a messy house. And, on the flip side, if you consistently put money into savings each month you are going to end up with a nice chunk of change in your savings account. It's just fact! Sometimes our actions bring blessings and other times regret or punishment but, as Christians, the Lord has called us to a journey of progress and not perfection. He knows we are going to mess up. That's why He went to the cross to die for every single one of our sins all of those years ago. His greatest desire is for us to surrender our lives to His leading, His will, and, in turn, a life filled with His many amazing blessings. So please don't forget, through the mountain tops and the valleys, that God's got this and God's got YOU!
Lord, as we journey through life, help us to remember that You are with us! Never leaving us alone and always leading us on the best path. Remind us that Your ways are higher than our ways and no matter what things may look like to us You always have a plan and purpose. And help us to live lives of surrender, knowing that even when the mountain seems too hard to climb or the calling seems far bigger than ourselves if You called us to this place then You will provide all we need to accomplish it and great purpose will come from it. Thank You, Lord, for loving me, leading me, and trusting me to play a part in this incredible story of life, love, and redemption that You are writing every single day.
“It is beyond my power to do this,” Joseph replied. “But God..."