Gen. 39:2-5 “2 The Lord was with Joseph and he was a successful man; and he was in the in the house of his master the Egyptian. 3 And his master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord made all he did to prosper in his hand. 4 So Joseph found favor in his sight and served him. Then he was made overseer of his house and all that he had, he put in his hand. 5 So it was, from the time that he had made him overseer of his house and all that he had, that the Lord blessed the Egyptian’s house for Joseph’s sake; and the blessing of the Lord was on all that he had in the house and in the field.”
At some point early on, Joseph was able to adjust to his “new normal” and go about the task of serving in Potiphar’s household. Somehow, he tenaciously held onto hope and faith in his God, that no matter what his circumstances looked like, he belonged to the Lord. He must have believed that even though his identity had disappeared, God hadn’t. How do we know?
By all earthly standards, Joseph had every right to be bitter. At every turn, he suffered at the hands of those who didn’t have his best interest at heart. But he didn’t become bitter. If he had, it would have seeped into every area of his life including his attitude, the way he spoke, his overall demeanor and certainly his work. Because bitterness is like that. It invades, overtakes and absolutely blinds us to anything good in our lives.
I don’t believe the Lord would have prospered Joseph and made him successful if he had chosen bitterness. Our progeny was a walking, talking witness to a God that was present—even in an ungodly place—and God rewarded him for it.
“He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not whither; And whatsoever he does shall prosper.” Ps.1:3
When Joseph first arrived in Egypt, the only thing he had control over was his thoughts. That might not sound like much…especially if you’re a recovering control freak (like me), but consider this quote by Margaret Thatcher:
“Watch your thoughts for they become your words.
Watch your words for they become your actions.
Watch your actions for they become your habits.
Watch your habits for they become your character.
Watch your character for it becomes your destiny.”
Jesus said it like this in Luke, chapter 6:
“A tree is known by its own fruit…A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. What you say flows from what is in your heart.” NLT
And Solomon, gifted with wisdom by God, put it this way (my life verse):
“Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.” Prov. 4:23
Even though Joseph’s story is a hard one, I can just see the heavenly hosts cheering him on at this point…and with good reason. He was able to retain and guard the hope that God had planted in his heart through a dream. Joseph chose better over bitter.
And this my friend, is where my story and Joseph’s part ways for a time.
I would be out-and-out lying if I told you that during one of the most difficult times of my life, I leaned into God. Because I didn’t. When my circumstances didn’t change, I grew impatient and angry with God. I can look back with laser-like clarity and see now what I couldn’t see then. His faithfulness.
Even though I let go of God—God didn’t let go of me.
In the midst of my suffering, I took my eyes off of the Lord and began to focus solely on my circumstances. I became consumed with retracing my footsteps and remembering all of the painful things I had endured. The beginning years of my life, going hungry and without shelter. The formative years of my life spent in and out of foster homes that weren’t safe. The junior years marked by physical and emotional abuse of a step-parent and my own father.
With my eyes and attention diverted, I began to think all the worst about God. That He was cruel. That He didn’t care. That He hated me. That He was the Potter and I was the clay alright…but that I had been created for destruction. That He was a grand Puppeteer, and I was nothing but a marionette on a string.
I thought the worst about God, but because of Christ, He continued to think the best about me.
I didn’t start out thinking that way of course. I had asked Jesus into my heart when I was sixteen. I knew the Bible, memorized scriptures, prayed all the time, etc. I did all the things that a Believer does when they love God. But when things started to unravel, so did my prayers. I began begging God for things to be different; for things to change. When they didn’t, I became angry and began to think that, at the very least, God should give me a why. After all, I reasoned, if I knew why absolutely everything within my grasp was broken, then maybe I could fix it.
God is sovereign. HE is Jehovah God. He never has been, nor ever will be in a position of indebtedness to man. In other words, He doesn’t owe us anything ~ including the why’s. (Job 38-41)
In my human estimation, God had fallen asleep on the job, pretty much…well…my whole life. So, I decided to look for love and acceptance on my own terms.
If you’re in the midst of a struggle or hardship right now and would like prayer, please let me know either in the comment section or via the blog email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will gladly pray for you. I want to encourage you to guard your heart, focus on the Lord and don’t give in to the lies of the enemy. God is faithful.
“For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him…” 2Chron.16:9