21st September 2018

Joseph; Prison, Pain and Palace

“And Joseph’s master took him and put him into the prison, the place where the king’s prisoners were confined; he remained there in prison.”
Genesis 39:20 (NRSV)

Bad things happen to good people. The story of Joseph in the Old Testament highlights that fact. Yes, we know the end of the story and that God had a plan, but let’s not rush to the conclusion, instead let’s languish with the prisoner in gaol for a while. No matter whether he shared his dreams, helped others, served faithfully or resisted temptation, it always seemed to end badly for him. He refused to have sexual relations with his master’s wife and ended up in prison for his high moral and ethical stance. Even promises that were made to him were soon forgotten. That’s not fair or right!

The author repeats in Genesis 39, “the Lord was with him” (verse 2) and “the Lord was with Joseph and showed him steadfast love” (verse 21). The context for the first is with him in slavery and the second, with him in prison. He had years in which to allow that seed of bitterness to grow and protest his innocence, but we are not told he did. We see a more recent example with Nelson Mandela. Over far less significant matters many have been known to sulk, complain and take matters into their own hands. While in undesirable settings totally beyond his control Joseph was being blessed, and those who enslaved and imprisoned him also reaped the benefit of his obedience, attitude and skills. We are left with an image that, even in his frustration, he was calm and hopeful.

This is a familiar story but the important lessons remain applicable for us today, whether at home, in the work place or in the community. We may have, or will receive, harsh, unfair or unjust treatment, but God is with us in the midst of our pain, struggle or confusion. Jesus said, “Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account” (Matthew 5:11). Whether we know the end result or not, we can have confidence (paraphrasing Genesis 39:23), because the Lord is with us; and whatever is done, the Lord will make it and us to prosper in the end.

So with God’s help always strive to do the right thing no matter the circumstances.

Loving Father, thank you that even in our moments of despair or depression you are our constant companion. In Jesus’ name please continue to surround us in your grace with love and mercy.

Study by David Gibbs

About the Author:
David Gibbs in an Elder and on the Pastoral Council in the Birmingham Congregation of the Worldwide Church of God UK.

Local Congregation:
Worldwide Church of God Birmingham
All Saints Church
George Road
B23 7QB

Meeting Time:
Saturday 1:00pm

Local Congregational Contact:
David Gibbs
Phone: 0777-7667635
Email: david_gibbs@wcg.org.uk

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