“The Lord was with Joseph.” (Gen. 39:2)
Those five words are the hallmark of the Biblical character Joseph’s life. Aren’t they so comforting?
Any of us would want our lives to be punctuated by the fact that the Lord is with us, wouldn’t we?
Remarkably, those words were first written about Joseph after his brothers had trapped him in a dry well, decided to kill him and then only changed their minds about killing him when they realized that by selling him as a slave they could at least have a little change in their pockets.
Joseph found himself shackled and on his way to a foreign land and an auction block where he was purchased by a man named Potiphar.
I can’t imagine that Joseph looked around and thought: “Wow! Things are going super well! I can easily see how the Lord is actively working in my life.”
And yet, the very next words that scripture records after Joseph is purchased as a slave are, “The Lord was with Joseph.”
If the Lord was with Joseph, why in the world was He allowing him to suffer in such an unjust and cruel way? Psalm 105 gives us the answer.
“They hurt his feet with shackles, his neck they put in an iron collar. Until the time his prediction came true, the word of the Lord tested him.” (vs. 19)
The next time we read that God was with Joseph was after Joseph had been unjustly thrown in prison, in fact, the Bible says: “But the Lord was with Joseph and extended kindness to him.” (Gen 39:21) God literally went to prison with Joseph, and even though the situation was not what any of us would hope for, Joseph found the kindness of God there.
God wasn’t testing Joseph to see how much he could take and still get a passing grade, the testing here refers to a refining process. It refers to a period of stripping away anything in Joseph that would hinder him from being able to accomplish the enormous thing that was down the road for him and making sure that he had all of the wisdom that would be required.
The thing that we can learn from Joseph is that, while he may not have been thrilled with this dramatic turn in his life and he may not have been able to easily see God’s hand, he did not give up. Joseph did his very best in the new situations that he found himself in. He did such a good job with such a good attitude that eventually even Potiphar and the prison warden saw the hand of God on Joseph’s life.
We can do the same thing.