But the Lord was with Joseph in the prison and showed him his faithful love.
Relate: Every now and then when I am reading along and I just have to stop and pause and do a doubletake. The other day I was reading a book and I came across this, ” ‘Nice toss.’ He said dryly as the water dripped down his face.” The wet and dry play on words was a sneaky bit of clever. And once I saw it, I spotted dozens of other salty little sentences peppered throughout the book. Other times I am doing the doubletake not necessarily because of such cleverness but because I realize that the author is not quite saying what I thought… or what one would expect.
One of my favorite examples of this in scripture is Jeremiah’s statement “I know the plans I have for you. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you a hope and a future.” I am sure you have heard that verse plenty of times. I’m sure many of you have even quoted that verse or held it close to your heart during times of trouble. But have you ever paid attention to the context of this famous verse? Jeremiah is writing to those who have just gone off into exile. Their hope is a quick return. From their perspective, becoming second class citizens in a foreign land was the exact opposite of prosperity. For the people of the Near East at this point in time, a person’s faith is tied to their land and this was doubly true for the Jews who called Israel their Promised Land. Now Jeremiah is telling them, “You’re gonna be stuck there for seventy years so you might as well settle down and get used to it.” This was the exact opposite of what they would consider “prosper, hope, and future.”
React: Joseph had been thrown in a pit and then sold into slavery because he was a spoiled brat and his brothers didn’t like him. They took dysfunctional to a whole different level. As a slave in Egypt, through diligence, hard work, and the grace of God, his situation slowly and steadily got better until he became the top slave in the household. Then, in one moment, the lust, spite, and pettiness of one woman sent it all toppling to the ground. Joseph is thrown into prison. But here we get a doubletake. In verses 2 and 3 we see that God was with Joseph when he was a slave. Now we see that God is still with Joseph when he is a prisoner. God was blessing him. God is showing him His faithful love. But Joseph’s situation has gone from bad to worse. Was God taking a bathroom break at just the wrong time? I’ve done that a time or two when watching toddlers so I know how quickly things can go awry. But Joseph is not a toddler. And God doesn’t take holidays (in this way). So what happened?
No matter how much Kenyon, Kenneth C, and Kenneth H, might like to tell us otherwise, neither our faith nor God’s favor is tied up into our material prosperity. God’s blessing does not equate with our ease. As counterintuitive as it might sound, sometimes God’s favor on our lives might end up meaning the house will burn down or that we will be diagnosed with cancer. Sometimes, it might be situations like these that become the catalyst for God to bring our way the “hope and the future” that He has planned on. The situations and circumstances in our life are not evidence of God’s favor and blessing. It is the way he enables us to respond to those situations and circumstances of life that demonstrate His hand on us. What might seem like our setback just might be God’s setup to change the world. Just ask Joseph when he met Pharaoh.
Through the good times and the bad, help me to always remain faithful to You. Give me the eyes to see Your hand and favor at work in my life no matter what is thrown my way. Let me never forget that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither principalities nor powers, not cancer or COVID, not riches or poverty, not sickness or health, not any other thing or circumstance can separate me from Your love.
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To read previous devotionals taken from the January 19th The River Walk devotionals click below: