Genesis 39:2 NIV - The Lord was with Joseph so that he prospered, and he lived in the house of his Egyptian master.
Take some time to read over the life of Joseph, son of Jacob in Genesis chapters 37 through 50. Reflect upon his God-dreams, his immature and provocative speech, his family dysfunction, his betrayal and sale into slavery, his work ethic and honorable character, his false charge of rape and subsequent imprisonment, the favor he found with various masters, his rising to prominence in prison, his spiritual giftedness, his opportunity to interpret the dreams of well-connected men, his wisdom before the king of Egypt, and his ultimate promotion to prime minister of Egypt. Throughout the many heartbreaking traumas and blessed opportunities, the Scripture repeats this truth: “And the LORD was with Joseph.” Aside from the explicit dreams and interpretations he had, Joseph’s supernatural experience could best be described as simply having the hand of God was always working in his life. Until the end of Genesis - in which Joseph saves all of his family (the children of Israel), preserving the bloodline of Messiah in the process - the hand of God was often hidden from view. There were times in which the hand of God exalted Joseph - to find favor and rule over Potiphar’s house (under only Potiphar himself), to find favor and rule under the prison warden, and then to find favor and rule under Pharaoh. But those high points were connected only by some very low and difficult points that spanned over two decades. Yet, “the LORD was with Joseph” through it all - positioning him where he would need to be to fulfill his divine destiny. The hand of God is often invisible, seemingly inactive when the dreams and visions of younger years seem impossible by life’s current difficulties and circumstances. Yet, God exalted Joseph quickly when the timing was right. Many times we can only see the hand of God in the rear view mirror of our life.
1 Peter 5:6-7 ESV - Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, 7 casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.
Some keys to consider in Joseph’s life: (1) Joseph maintained godly character, integrity, and identity when nobody beside God would have known otherwise. (2) Each time God’s hand exalted Joseph, he found favor with a man in a key position. Joseph served these men faithfully, in essence as the best #2 man in each case - bringing profitability, peace, and prosperity despite never being the #1 man in charge. (3) Joseph resisted the poisons of bitterness, unforgiveness, and vengeance - demonstrating some of his greatest strength when he had the opportunity to exact punishment and refused (against Potiphar’s wife and his own brothers). (4) Joseph was always in the business of blessing others despite his circumstances. Before he could be trusted over Potiphar’s business, he blessed Potiphar as a faithful slave. Before Joseph was trusted as a prison overseer, he blessed the prison warden as a model prisoner. Before God trusted Joseph to interpret the king’s dreams, Joseph ministered to prisoners - interpreting the dreams of criminals. Before Joseph tested his brothers to ensure their repentance, he provided them with food and restored their money. In essence, since Joseph was making a difference to bless others in his low times, the hand of God gave him opportunity to make a bigger difference in his times of exaltation.
Luke 18:1-8 NKJV - Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart, 2 saying: “There was in a certain city a judge who did not fear God nor regard man. 3 Now there was a widow in that city; and she came to him, saying, ‘Get justice for me from my adversary.’ 4 And he would not for a while; but afterward he said within himself, ‘Though I do not fear God nor regard man, 5 yet because this widow troubles me I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.’” 6 Then the Lord said, “Hear what the unjust judge said. 7 And shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him, though He bears long with them? 8 I tell you that He will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?”
Consider the applications of Joseph’s situation to your own. How often have you felt abandoned or unprotected by God when perhaps His hand was simply positioning you to make more of a difference to help others? What can you apply to life right now in terms of Joseph’s choice to maintain godly character, integrity, and work ethic despite every opportunity to choose bitterness and complaint? How might the fact that the hand of God always exalted Joseph to a position in which he was still under another leader apply to your situation? (especially since each leader he served under was in some way inferior - lacking Joseph’s spirituality, wisdom, or skill) Like Joseph, will you keep blessing others and serving in lowly tasks with excellence whenever you’re “down and out”? Will you even bless the unrepentant and undeserving whenever the hand of God exalts you?
Romans 12:17-21 NLT - Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. 18 Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.19 Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say, “I will take revenge; I will pay them back,” says the Lord. 20 Instead, “If your enemies are hungry, feed them. If they are thirsty, give them something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals of shame on their heads.” 21 Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good.
Matthew 5:43-48 NLT - “You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. 44 But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! 45 In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike. 46 If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. 47 If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that. 48 But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.