Blessing…favor…success…the presence of God, we all want these things, right?
You might want to reconsider.
I’ve been reading through Genesis for a while. The story of Joseph has captivated me for the last couple weeks and it might cause you to think twice about desiring God’s blessing.
You may know Josephs story. You can read about it in Genesis 37-50. Joseph is the favorite son of Jacob. His brothers know it. They were jealous and decide to get rid of this precocious teenager. They throw him in a well and leave him to die. Later, they decide to make a few bucks and sell him into slavery. That would usually be the end of such stories, but God is writing this one.
Joseph ends up a servant in Egypt to one of Pharaoh’s officials named Potiphar. Joseph excels in his duties, but is thrown into prison when he resists the sexual advances of his master’s wife and she falsely accuses him.
The first part of Joseph’s story unfolds like this:
Joseph is thrown in a well.
Joseph is sold by his brothers.
Joseph becomes a slave in a foreign land.
Joseph serves with excellence and resists temptation, but is thrown in prison.
Here is the shocker:
God is blessing Joseph.
In the midst of all this trouble and pain, the Bible repeats again and again that God was with Joseph and that he had God’s favor and that God was giving Joseph success.
God was blessing Joseph?
Now to be fair, Joseph did enjoy the respect and confidence of Potiphar…as his captive…before he threw him in jail. And, Joseph did gain the favor of the prison guard…while living in a dungeon as a falsely imprisoned slave.
Put yourself in Joseph’s position. What part of that has you feeling blessed? How does life seem to be going? What is your perspective on the future? How do you feel about God?
I would be thinking things like…
How could my brothers do this to me?
How could God allow me to be separated from my family and the promised land?
What about that dream God gave me about enjoying success and ascending to a position of great leadership?
Why would God allow me to be a slave?
Has God abandoned me?
Why am I rotting in an Egyptian prison when I served my master faithfully?
How is prison a just reward for resisting temptation and honoring God?
But those would be all the wrong questions. Those would be all the wrong thoughts. Those would be all the wrong feelings.
The reality is that the blessing of God doesn’t always come to us in the way or in the time that we might hope. Sometimes it looks drastically different. Sometimes the blessing of God involves a tragic turn before a redemptive end.
We are too short sighted. I am too short sighted. Often, my perception of God’s work in my life is dependent upon my circumstances today and only today. One day God is with me, the next day, God is against me.
Do you ever feel like that?
The remarkable thing about Joseph is that he didn’t go that route. I’m sure he had desperate moments. He was human. He had to, but he clearly didn’t let it grow into despair or bitterness.
A few years later…hear that…years… Joseph is summoned from prison by Pharaoh to interpret a dream. There is no anger. There is no doubt. Joseph immediately expresses faith and confidence in God.
“I cannot do it,” Joseph replied to Pharaoh,” but God will give Pharaoh the answer he desires.” -Genesis 41:16
The greatest blessing isn’t wealth or comfort. The greatest blessing is to be in the middle of God’s Will. The greatest blessing is to complete the great purposes that he has for you. The greatest blessing is to walk in the plans that God has for your life.
The story may have some rough pages, but God is telling a good story in your life. He is working out things that you know nothing about. That is what he did with Joseph.
All the pain of Joseph’s life was to bring him to a position of leadership under Pharaoh in which he could save Egypt and the future nation of Israel. It is an incredible story. But, he couldn’t see that when he was at the bottom of that well. Joseph couldn’t see that living as a slave nor could he see that in a dark dungeon. Maybe you can’t see it sometimes either.
The same God that was sovereign over Joseph’s life is the God that is sovereign over your life. Blessing doesn’t always look like we expect, but if we live with confident faith in the God who is writing our story, there is no better place to be.