Some may be in prison and know what it feels like. But some who’ve never been in a physical prison, can feel locked up as well; whether it’s a job or a relationship or a bad habit, it can feel as if we can’t get out and we hate it and would do just about anything to escape. But what if immediate escape isn’t in the Lord’s perfect plan for us? You may think: “WHAT?! That can’t be right;” and yet sometimes it’s true. It was that way with Joseph.
The merchants brought their new slave, Joseph, to Egypt and sold him to Potiphar, the captain of the guard, and “the Lord made all that he did to prosper in his hand. And Joseph found grace in his sight, and he served him: and he made him overseer over his house, and all that he had he put into his hand” (Gen. 39:3-4).
But then Potiphar’s wife set her sights on Joseph. “And it came to pass after these things, that his master’s wife cast her eyes upon Joseph; and she said, Lie with me” (Gen 39:8). Joseph refused and she kept coming after him until one day when there were no men in the house, she grabbed a piece of his clothing and when he ran away from her, the clothing was still in her hand. She used this to accuse him to her husband Potiphar. When Potiphar heard this, he believed his wife’s story and locked Joseph up in prison.
Joseph found favor in prison and did well, as far as prison goes. Then he met two other men in prison who were servants of the King of Egypt. One was a butler and the other a baker. They had dreams they couldn’t interpret, so Joseph said he’d take it to God and see what the dreams meant. For the butler, it was good news – he was getting out of prison. He was thankful, but when he got out, he totally forgot about Joseph.
Here’s where the “what if” comes in. What if the butler had gotten Joseph out of prison at that time? What if Joseph had been kindly sent back to his country?
He would have gone back to a family where his brothers hated him and his father thought he had been killed by a wild beast. Talk about a dysfunctional family! Can you imagine the strife between brothers and father in that family? Then put Joseph in the mix—yikes! And besides that, the country was descending into a huge gaping famine. God knew all this and already had a plan in mind. Unfortunately for Joseph, it meant he had to stay in prison a little longer.
So, as it turns out, the butler forgot about Joseph and Joseph was in prison for two more years! But while he was there, he was promoted and so he had the best position in the prison, and it wasn’t nearly as bad as it could have been.
“The Lord was with him; he showed him kindness and granted him favor in the eyes of the prison warden.So the warden put Joseph in charge of all those held in the prison, and he was made responsible for all that was done there.
“The warden paid no attention to anything under Joseph’s care, because the Lord was with Joseph and gave him success in whatever he did” (Gen 39:21-23).
Not always, but sometimes maybe our prisons aren’t nearly as bad as they seem. Check with God for an answer to that. Just maybe they are temporary, just long enough to get us to the place on the other side, when the timing for greater things is perfect for us. That’s how it went with Joseph.
When the King of Egypt had a dream he couldn’t interpret, the butler remembered Joseph. He finally got him out of prison. And now, instead of working for the king’s captain, Potiphar, Joseph was working for the king himself! And in an instant, he was put in a wealthy position at the very head of the country. God gave him the revelation of how to store up huge amounts of sustainable food for many years to come. Not only did Egypt prosper under Joseph, but Joseph was able to reconcile with his family and save them from the famine as well.
So if we feel like we are in prison and we’ve prayed and done everything we can to get out; and it’s just not happening, what do we do? We ask God if it is where we are supposed to be for now. Then we ask Him to bless us where we’re at, just like Joseph with the best case scenario. Our Lord will answer.
Hebrews 13:5 tells us: “Let your manner of living be without covetousness, and be content with such things as ye have. For He hath said, ‘I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.’”
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