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Arcola United Methodist Church

Joseph: In the Pit

Scripture:

Before the years of famine came, two sons were born to Joseph by Asenath daughter of Potiphera, priest of On. Joseph named his firstborn Manasseh and said, "It is because God has made me forget all my trouble and all my father's household." The second son he named Ephraim and said, "It is because God has made me fruitful in the land of my suffering."
- Genesis 41:50-52 

Devotional:

As Christians, we know that our faith does not shield us from difficulties. That's why I am so grateful that the Bible provides so many verses to cling to that remind us of the truth of God's presence in our pain. In addition, we find numerous examples of Biblical characters whose lives show us that God will not leave us alone in our suffering and will even find a way to grant us and others goodness and abundance along the way. This is what we find in the tumultuous journey of Joseph's life. We clearly see the hand of God moving to make a way for him, and in turn, bringing a blessing of hope to a huge number of people under Joseph's leadership. 

The Biblical authors don't give us a clear illustration of Joseph's attitude as he faces the many trials in his life. We don't hear descriptions of him pleading with his brothers for his life, whining and stomping his feet when he is falsely accused, or hanging his head in shame and defeat as he spends years in prison. This isn't to say that he didn't have hopeless days. Joseph was a human being after all. 

What we are able to glean from these accounts is that Joseph continued to believe in the gifts God had given him and used them responsibly day in and day out. He continued to work faithfully for both his Egyptian master, the prison warden, and above all for his God, trusting Him during his hardships. He fully expected that God would fulfill the message he had received in the dreams he had as a young man. And I think that had much more to do with Joseph's unwavering faith that God was always by his side, than with any aspect of his character. 

Time after time the verses in Genesis remind us of God's presence. Even as a slave in the house of his Egyptian master, "the Lord was with Joseph and he prospered." (39:2) When he is thrown into prison after the false accusations of Potipher's wife "the Lord was with him; he showed him kindness and granted him favor in the eyes of the prison warden." (39:21) Verse 23 repeats again that "the Lord was with Joseph and gave him success in whatever he did. 

The escalation of Joseph to such high power after so many low points is a wonderful expression of God's redemption. However, I don't think the key lesson for us is to reduce the fruitfulness that Joseph celebrated only to the power and success he found. I think the real joy that Joseph found was in the steady loyalty of a God who stayed put and in the power of the relationship he was able to build with Him throughout his life. 

Prayer:

Steadfast, loyal Lord. We are thankful for Your Holy presence. We rejoice in the truth that You will be with us wherever we go - whether in feast or in famine. Help us celebrate the fruitfulness that Your presence and our relationship with You brings us - both in times of suffering and of joy. Amen. 

Written by Jennifer Skinner, member of Arcola Church and a Texan (Texas Longhorn to be specific!) living in beautiful Virginia with her very patient, funny husband, and three very impatient, funny boys/ball players. She is also a blogger, The View From Behind Home Plate, who writes about finding extraordinary grace and blessings among the cleats and dirt and testosterone that fill her ordinary days. 

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