In the prison

My dad once talked to me about people going on holiday.  He said there are two types of holiday makers; the first group are stressed out, exhausted by life, sweaty and cross loading the cases into the car, panicked that they might have lost their passports, frustrated by the heavy traffic presenting them with possibility of missing their flight, agitated by the length of the check-in queue and the slowness of the flight attendant checking them in, inconvenienced by the security checks, horrified by the distance they have to hike to get to the gate, hot and bothered and desperate to get to their destination where they can have a rest from life’s pressures.  The second group wake up early with butterflies of excitement in their stomachs, they dress in their garish shorts and patterned shirts topped with an oversized sunhat and shades like they mean business, they chuck their bags in the car, turn on the radio full blast, wind down the windows and sing loudly all the way to the airport where they make new best friends for life in the queue for check-in, they smile at the security cameras, stop (with their new BFFs) on the way to the gate for a ridiculously over-priced coffee and a sugar-coated pastry for breakfast  because, after all, they are on holiday!  For the first group the journey is a frustrating inconvenience between them and their destination.  For the second the holiday has already begun and the journey is all part of the fun.  I think my wise dad was making a serious point about life – sometimes we can be so preoccupied with our desired destination that we can miss out on the fact that it’s often about the journey.

In Genesis 39 we cut back into Joseph’s story and discover that, after being beaten and sold by his brothers, he arrives in Egypt and is sold as a slave to a man named Potiphar.  Now Potiphar was a very important man, one of Pharaoh’s officials, the captain of the guard, and he knew a good thing when he saw it – and he saw Joseph.

The Lord was with Joseph so that he prospered, and he lived in the house of his Egyptian master.  When his master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord gave him success in everything he did, Joseph found favour in his eyes and became his attendant. Potiphar put him in charge of his household, and he entrusted to his care everything he owned.   From the time he put him in charge of his household and of all that he owned, the Lord blessed the household of the Egyptian because of Joseph. Gen 39:2-6

All was going well – the Lord was with Joseph in Potiphar’s house and the blessing and favour on his life overflowed to those around him.  Now favour is obviously an attractive thing and so Potiphar’s wife fancies getting herself some – with Joseph, but Joseph, being the God-fearing man he is, is having none of it and literally runs away from her leaving her holding her wounded pride and his cloak. Potiphar’s wife is not at all happy about this so she slanders Joseph, accusing him of attacking her – and despite the fact he did what was right he is punished for doing wrong.  Joseph was thrown into prison. This next verse moves me every time I read it;

…But while Joseph was there in the prison, the Lord was with him; he showed him kindness and granted him favour….Gen39:20-21

I get undone by this story – just when it looks like Joseph is on his way to fulfilling his dream, on the up, getting nearer the goal, the rug gets ripped out from under him (or perhaps from over him😉) and he ends up back in a deep dark hole!  It’s excruciating. Joseph was rejected, beaten, sold, enslaved, slandered, imprisoned and forgotten! If it had been me I would definitely have had a bit of a hurumph on by now, the self-pity would have been justified by the injustice, the chip on my shoulder possibly the size of a tree and I would have probably forgotten the destination and given up on the dream completely!  But God was with him in the prison. Even when he reached rock bottom God was with him – showing him kindness and granting him favour. If God is with you is there anywhere else you would rather be? His Light in the darkest place is brighter than the sunniest day outside of His will. And all through this journey God is at work preparing Joseph to step into the very things He had put in his heart at the beginning – working on his character, giving him the skills he would need, preparing him in secret to save a nation.  Without the journey Joseph wouldn’t have been able to reach his destination.  Without the process, he would not have been prepared to receive the promise.

I love that despite it all Joseph hasn’t given up on dreams, in fact it’s his ability to understand dreams that is ultimately the key to his own being realised. It can be easy to stop dreaming or to put down our calling or to stop using our gifts when we are faced with disappointment, injustice or rejection. Isn’t it wonderful to know though that God is with us and that we have a Saviour who has journeyed this path so that we will not grow weary and loose heart.

Jesus was rejected by men and forsaken by God so that you can be accepted.  He was beaten beyond recognition so that we can be healed. He purchased you with His blood and instead of calling you a slave He calls you a son, adopted into His family.  Instead of slander and lies – He speaks truth, He is Truth. Where once you were imprisoned – His Spirit brings freedom.  Where you were forgotten or overlooked, He calls you by name and shows you His kindness and favour.

My prayer this week friends is that you would know that He is with you – wherever you are on your journey; whether have lost your passport and had your car dinged in the traffic jam of life or your favour is overflowing on your friends in the café while you enjoy a sugar-coated pastry treat.

I thank my God every time I remember you.  In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. Phil 1:3-6

Thanks for reading.  Much love Rach x

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