When the Lord is WITH you in the darkness, His strength gives you courage, His life gives you hope, and His love soothes the ache of a lonely heart. Joseph was enslaved, and then wrongfully accused and thrown in prison and still three times we see in this passage a declaration that the Lord was WITH Joseph in all of it. That the very place where darkness should surround, the Lord showed Joseph his steadfast love and gave him favor… in prison. And in whatever Joseph did he prospered. My first thought was if God’s presence with Joseph made him succeed and prosper everywhere he went, then how did he end up in prison? Oh the ways of God are not our own. Our idea of prospering are not His and in this very broken world over and over God wants us to know that even in the brokenness, even in the darkness, even in the places that don’t make any sense how we got there He is present. And there we discover that His presence is more than enough to sustain and carry us. There is one statement in this passage that gives us a glimpse into Joseph’s heart and perspective. When trying to be persuaded by his master’s wife to lie with her he responds “How then can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?”. Here we see a piece of Josephs’ heart to honor and fear God in whatever circumstances, as challenging as they may be. Today I received a card from a friend whose words encouraged and reminded me of what it means for God to be with us, to be the one who strengthens us, that even in our darkest hour His presence with us can not help but be displayed through the life of the one willing to simply cling to Him. She wrote:
“God has allowed you to walk through valleys I have not thought possible and I pray that God has also provided deep trust and assurance of the acres of hope that you have in Christ Jesus. Our only hope! Crowns await you my friend and every hurt and loss you have been called to endure has been felt so deeply by our God and Savior. You have pointed thousands of people to Christ and not just with words but by walking step by step through the impossible. Words are deep, but your faithfulness and trust has shown people a God who is high above the Heavens, but who also cares deeply for a lost and hurting world. “The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness; He will quiet you by His love; He will exult over you with loud singing.” Zephaniah 3:17 With much love and sorrow and continuous petitioning on your behalf. May God strengthen you and rise you up to stand in the midst of waters that are much to deep”
I was reminded as I read this of a conversation I had several weeks ago with an incredibly wise woman who has also walked a road filled with loss. We were talking of miracles and God healing Dasah and she said “Do not forget that the miracle will also be to have joy in the midst of sorrow, peace when there should be no peace, hope when all seems hopeless. When joy and hope and peace are found in seasons of such loss, that too is a miracle that could only be wrought by the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit in the life of a believer.” Only God can produce such fruit in seasons of such darkness for me and for you in whatever season of darkness you find yourself in.
“I think the tang of the salt that the world needs to taste, and the brightness of the light that the world needs to see is precisely this indomitable joy in the midst of sorrow. Joy in the midst of health? Joy in the midst of wealth and ease? And when everyone speaks well of you? Why would that mean anything to the world? They have that already. But indomitable joy in the midst of sorrow – that they don’t have. That is what Jesus came to give in this fallen, pain-filled, sin-wrecked world.” – John Piper
It is only the supernatural work of God and His presence with Joseph that could make him prosper in the midst of slavery and imprisonment, a picture of his steadfast love and favor in the midst of betrayal, and a fear of Himself in the midst of the most challenging of circumstances. And it is only the supernatural work of God that can enable us to prosper and know God’s love and favor towards us in the midst of the darkness we find ourselves in. The same God who was with Joseph in prison, is the same God who is with us today revealing Himself and His power in the most unlikely of places that we and the watching world around us would know that He alone is the source of all hope and joy.
Questions for Reflection:
- What did God’s presence with Joseph affect in his life and the lives of those around him?
- What could God’s presence with you in seasons of darkness affect.. in your life and those around you?
- Ask the Lord to produce in you joy and hope in the dark places in your life.
Tomorrows Passage (Day 29)
Joseph in Genesis 40 & 41
and I’ll leave with a sweet joy moment from today…