One of the heroes of the Old Testament is a man called Joseph. He was a favorite son of his father, Jacob, who had 11 other sons. These sons ultimately made up the foundation of the people of Israel. Joseph was sold into slavery by his jealous brothers because he was his father’s favorite son. Joseph was a talented, bright man, and soon proved his value to the Egyptians as he was put into places of prominence only to be betrayed by his employer’s wife and thrown into prison. There he would interpret dreams which eventually got him an audience before the Pharaoh who was troubled by a dream that no one could interpret. Joseph interpreted the dream which foretold the coming drought and famine that would come upon the land. Pharaoh, believing what Joseph told him, put him in charge of all the agriculture and grain storage in Egypt. Joseph wisely put grain aside for seven years to prepare for the great famine that was to come.
That is the story of Joseph in a nutshell. It was Joseph who was sold into slavery only to be, in a sense, the physical savior of that region through his interpretation of Pharaoh’s dream, and his wise conservation of grain in the healthy years before the famine. However, Joseph did not have an easy path to his eventual success. His years of knowing that he was an outcast from his family, plus being innocently charged with a crime he didn't commit, and being thrown into prison for several years before being exonerated by Pharaoh.
Joseph’s story is a great example of knowing God’s path isn’t an easy path. God conditioned Joseph as a slave and as a prisoner to forgive and trust in God when nothing else was in his favor. That position of not knowing the end for the beginning is true for all of us, and it is our trust in God that keeps us focused on the end game … to honor God regardless of the circumstances. We see that in King David also. He was picked as the next King of Israel, but he had many years to prove himself as he ran from King Saul who was trying to kill him.
Trusting in God when you are in the circumstance of not seeing the light at the end of the tunnel is difficult. Joseph did not know if he would ever get out of prison, in fact, the likelihood of doing so was quite slim. Yet, he used this time not to whine and pout because of his plight, but chose instead to use the gifts God gave him to interpret dreams which eventually served him well by being brought before Pharaoh himself.
As I reflect on my life, I know there have been circumstances in my life that I could not get out of until God made it happen. It is the in-between times when nothing is happening that is the difficult season. Our cry is, “God, where are you?” “Why does it feel like you are not there?” Yet, God never leaves us if our trust remains in Him. He does not leave His people without the hope of knowing He knows, He sees, and He will act when the time is right. Our part is simple … trust God until He comes through.
But trusting God is not easy when nothing is moving, nothing is happening, and there is no evidence that God is doing anything in that moment to help maintain our trust in Him. It is precisely that circumstance that makes a Joseph out of those of us who struggle with the why and the when. Joseph had nothing but trust in God. It seems harsh and incomplete to be told just to trust in God, yet that is what we are left with when we face any circumstance we cannot control … including our own death. Hope and trust in God will not remove the circumstance but will use the circumstance to make you into a Joseph, a trusting servant of God. That result is worth all the pleasures of a season, all the accolades of fame, and it is worth the words that will be spoken to you by Jesus someday, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.”
It is the servant that God honors and rewards, but it takes the Joseph experiences to form that servant in you.
Challenging the Culture with Truth … Larry Kutzler