And the Lord was with Joseph, and he was a prosperous man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian.
(Genesis 39:2, KJV)
The Lord was with Joseph... He was a prosperous man... but he was in the house of his master. So, Joseph was a slave.
These phrases don't seem to fit together. A prosperous slave? Really?? The Lord was with him, he was prosperous, yet he was thrown into slavery by his own jealous hearted brothers. Umm, make it make sense God.
But before we jump to conclusions, let's look at some more scripture, shall we?
And his master saw that the Lord was with him, and that the Lord made all that he did to prosper in his hand. And Joseph found grace in his sight, and he served him: and he made him overseer over his house, and all that he had he put into his hand.
(Genesis 39:3-4, KJV)
Even in slavery, his master could see the hand of the Lord all over Joseph. Even in slavery, Joseph had the Midas touch... everything he touched prospered. His favor was so evident that Joseph was made an overseer of the other slaves. But the story doesn't stop there. As the account unfolds, Joseph ends up being thrown in prison. Yeah, crazy right? Like being a slave wasn't enough. He was lied on by his master's wife because Joseph refused to sleep with her.
So, now not only is he a slave, he's a slave who is also in prison. A prison slave... or a slave prisoner. Whatever you want to call it, it just didn't look good. Things just didn't seem to be working in Joseph's favor. But my Lord, look at the next verse.
And Joseph's master took him, and put him into the prison, a place where the king's prisoners were bound: and he was there in the prison. But the Lord was with Joseph, and shewed him mercy, and gave him favour in the sight of the keeper of the prison. And the keeper of the prison committed to Joseph's hand all the prisoners that were in the prison; and whatsoever they did there, he was the doer of it. The keeper of the prison looked not to any thing that was under his hand; because the Lord was with him, and that which he did, the Lord made it to prosper. (Genesis 39: 20-23, KJV)
My Lord! It just didn't matter where Joseph was thrown. Wherever he went, he found favor. Abundant favor. But can we pause and think about the emotions of Joseph? Surely although he was blessed, he had to have felt the trauma of his experiences. He was thrown into a pit by his own brothers. He was sold into slavery by them... snatched away from his mother and father without a good-bye or a farewell. He was lied on by his master's wife and thrown in a prison while already being a slave.
Oh, and not to mention while he was in prison he interpreted a dream for a fellow inmate and asked the inmate to tell the king about his ability to interpret dreams when the inmate was released. But the inmate forgot to tell the king, and it didn't cross the inmate's mind until two years later when the king needed his dream interpreted.
Imagine Joseph's despair! Yes, he was blessed and prosperous despite his predicament, but I am sure there were times when Joseph didn't feel prosperous. I am sure there were times were Joseph didn't feel like God was with him... but God was always there.
So whenever you find yourself thinking that God is not with you remember Joseph. Remember that he was enslaved, but the bible said "and the Lord was with him". While he was thrown in prison, scripture says "and the Lord was with him".
Please remember that even in your most weak, dark moments, God is with you. For in your weak moments, God's power can be displayed. I am a testimony. Just last week I experienced the most emotional painful experience I've ever had in my life.
It tore me up!
I will likely write about it in the near or distant future. I can't open up about it right now as the wound is still fresh. But when I tell y'all God was and still is with me! As low as I felt, it is only by His strength that I am not still an emotional wreck. My heart was so heavy and I could feel depression hovering over me like a dark presence, waiting to permanently settle into my spirit. It threatened my faith and my ministry.
But God was with me. I continued to pray even when I didn't feel like it. I continued to reverence God even though He vexed my soul. Even though I felt like I was thrown in darkness, I held on to God.
Why? Because I remembered who I was. I remembered God was with me. And as I write this I realize much like Joseph, tough times have purpose. Eventually, Joseph was made the most powerful man in Egypt besides the king. When his brothers became aware of his status, they became nervous. They wondered what Joseph might do to them. But here's Joseph's response to his brothers:
So now it was not you that sent me hither, but God: and he hath made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house, and a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt
(Genesis 42:8, KJV)
Joseph understood that God was with Him all along for a greater purpose. It appeared to be a contradiction to be a prosperous slave, but in the end it all worked out for him. Sometimes we can't see the point of our hardships. At the time of his enslavement, Joseph couldn't understand why his brothers betrayed him. But it was a divine betrayal.
I am sure when he was lied on by his master's wife, he couldn't understand why. I am sure when the prisoner didn't tell the king about his dream interpreting gift, he couldn't understand why God allowed him to sit in prison for two more years. But it was divine suffering.
All of it was divine. Everything lead up to him interpreting the king's dream. If Joseph had never been sold into slavery, he would have never had the opportunity to be placed before the king. If he had never went to prison, his dream interpreting skills would have never been on display.
So, here's my point. You may not always understand why your particular hardship has come your way. You just may not know at that time. But know this. When life is hard, God is our soft place. We can always rest in Him.
Also, remember that God made a slave prosperous. He made a prisoner find favor. Certainly, He can grant us blessings despite our trials. No one is exempt from troublesome times. But everyone has access to protection in the midst of our hard times. For Psalms 27:5 states "For in the time of trouble He shall hide me in his pavilion". So even if you don't understand, even if the pain is unrelenting, just take a deep breath and remember God is with you.