We have all been hurt or discouraged by someone we know and love. This does not mean our pain is less significant, but rather, this means because of mankind’s propensity to sin, there is a great chance you have been hurt. There are very good odds you have never been hurt quite like Joseph was betrayed. Left in a pit to die, sold into slavery…that’s not cool bros. The one collection of people this dreamer should have been able to trust, stabbed him in the back.
Things didn’t get much better for Joseph in his next season of life, either. In chapter 39 of Genesis, Joseph was sold again. Then, in the custody of his new owner, he was falsely accused of rape. A great injustice made worse he would be cast into the portion of the prison reserved specifically for those who made the king mad. Very good odds there was no Welcome Bag when he checked in or chocolate cookie on his pillow. If anyone ever had the right to declare God had abandoned him, if anyone was justified in feeling discouraged and not blessed, it was Joseph.
But upon a closer look, we read a very, very wonderful phrase: “but the Lord was with Joseph.” Maybe there are no sweeter words in the whole of scripture. It is said of Joseph twice in this one chapter alone. Despite Joseph’s circumstance, no matter how he felt, the truth was, God was with him. The truth is, no matter how you feel, God is with you.
I have never been thrown into a pit nor sold into slavery, but I have had moments in my life where I felt discouraged. Then I am reminded of the story of Joseph, which is a beautiful parallel to Jesus’s teaching in Matthew 6:8, “The Father knows what you need, even before you ask.” I was reminded of this truth this morning as I jogged down Pips Ridge. This is one street over from our house and I know it well. Whenever Becca and I were looking for homes after my graduation from seminary, there was a home on this street that was our dream home. But it was not to be. It was bought before we could make an offer. We were crushed. We were discouraged. We felt like God did not answer (maybe did not hear?!) our prayer. Now, eight years later, we understand this discouragement was actually a blessing. The home on Anna Calla we went on to buy (and are now selling) puts us in a more favorable position to move to Little Rock than if we had to sell the house that got away. We would have never known this financial blessing had God answered our prayer the way we wanted. Being omniscient (all knowing) is not a Fruit of the Spirit. But God can and does see 8 minutes, 8 months, or 8 years down the road of your life.
Another experience like this was whenever I was in a car wreck three days after we found out Becca was pregnant with Cooper. No one was hurt, car appeared to take on very little damage, but it was totaled. WHAT?! GREAT! How incredibly inconvenient. What will we do now?! How could God let this happen?! But that discouragement was turned into a blessing three moths later whenever we were able to use the insurance money to buy Becca (and now the boys) a new car – likely not possible had I not wrecked my car!
If you will take time to stop and think, perhaps you can recall a moment(s) like this. Not a moment of health, wealth, and prosperity. Rather, a moment when you saw a discouragement, but God was really providing a blessing. I’m sure in the pit and again in the prison, Joseph did not consider those moments a blessing. However, as he trusted that God was with him, he trusted God knew what he needed even before he asked. Ultimately, God would prosper Joseph and bless him immensely. My personal prayer, and hope for you, is that we will be Christ-followers who trust God knows what we need even before we ask; and in those moments when we are discouraged, we will instead see the potential for blessing, remembering the Lord is always with us.