24–30 January 2016.
Things just go from bad to worse for Joseph! He starts as his father’s favourite child, but is then hated, sold into slavery, and sent into a foreign land. Sometimes it looks like things will finally change for Joseph, but then the next disaster quickly comes along.
We see the same pattern in chapters 39 and 40. Joseph has worked hard and taken a position of authority in Potiphar’s house. Things are looking good! But then Potiphar’s wife destroys it all. Even though Joseph tries to act properly, he still finds himself accused of rape and sent to prison.
All through these stories, we read over and over again that “the Lord was with Joseph” (e.g. 39:2). But given all these constant disasters, we may wonder if that was really true. But there is a vital lesson here: Joseph’s story is not about how believers are kept protected from troubles, or that our lives will be easy. Instead the promise that comes to Joseph, and to us, is that God will be with us even in our troubles. When things go wrong, God doesn’t leave us. Instead he stays right there beside us as our best friend.
This is also true in chapter 40. There verse 4 tells us that Joseph became a slave to other prisoners. He is now lowest of the low. But even at the very bottom, God is still with him.
In prison, it is Joseph’s character that leads him in the right direction. Joseph has been so badly abused that we could understand if he fell into deep self-pity, depressed about all his own troubles. But in 40:7, Joseph does something amazing: he actually shows concern for other people’s feelings. And that genuine care for others becomes a real turning point in his life – it’s what sets him on the road to Pharaoh.
This is also a great reminder for us that when things go wrong in our own lives, we shouldn’t use that as an excuse for self-pity. Instead we should try never to stop caring for others and their troubles. We may find that our caring actions for others are also the way out of our own problems.
Pastor Stephen Lakkis