Genesis 39

Read Genesis 39
The Lord was with Joseph.

The phrase caught my attention as I read Genesis 39 during my morning devotions. That's pretty bold, I thought. Joseph's been sold to slave traders by his brothers, sold again to Potiphar, and the narrator of the story says, ‘the Lord was with Joseph’. How can that be? One verse later, there it was again.

The Lord was with Joseph.

This time the observation came after a description of how Joseph gained his master's favor and trust by running his house efficiently and it prospered. That one makes more sense, I admitted while adding the caveat, but he's still a slave. Near the end of the chapter, the phrase popped up again.

The Lord was with Joseph.

The phrase was harder to swallow this time, coming as it did after his master's wife falsely accused Joseph of attacking her. You've got to be kidding, I thought. The Lord cannot be with Joseph in those circumstances.  But in the final verse of the chapter, the narrator describes Joseph being sent to prison, followed by—you guessed it—

The Lord was with him.

Not only was the Lord with Joseph in prison, but in whatever he did, the narrator went on to say, ‘the Lord made Joseph prosper’. I quickly reviewed the plot points:

Joseph was sold into slavery and the Lord was with Joseph.
He worked hard, made his master rich, and the Lord was with Joseph.
Then he was falsely accused and unjustly imprisoned, but still the Lord was with Joseph.
And the Lord made Joseph prosper, because the Lord was with Joseph.

The circumstances of Joseph's life brought back memories of the years when our young son struggled to stay alive. Every step forward was followed by a health scare that took him two steps back. Yet when I reflect upon our story, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that the Lord was with us and our son. As a newborn, he needed immediate surgery at a hospital 750 miles away. Nearly dying two months later, he required eight surgeries and countless hospital tests and procedures. But through it all, the Lord prospered our family.

God’s ‘prosperity’ doesn't come in the form of material riches, glamorous lives, or notoriety. Instead, it is a prosperity of the heart–the strong and sure assurance gained through sensing God's presence as he guides us through darkness into a future we can’t imagine or conceive. This prosperity comes from looking back and recognizing the times God went ahead of us and prepared us to do his work.

When reflecting on Joseph's story and on the ongoing pandemic, it’s a bold statement to claim that the Lord is with us when everything seems to be going wrong.

It's a bold statement, and it is absolutely true. We may not be able to see, in the difficult present, but it is his hand guiding us. One day in the future, we will look back and see that he was with us, and that he brought us to an unexpected and purposeful present beyond our wildest imaginings. When that truth settles into the depths of our souls, we will know beyond a shadow of doubt that the Lord is with us and that he has made our hearts to prosper.
Jolene Philo | Author 

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