From Prison to Palace
He was seventeen when he was sold into slavery.
A victim of his own brothers’ jealousy, this young man named Joseph found himself in Egypt, serving as a slave in the home of one of Pharaoh’s officials. Relatively speaking, things went well for Joseph in the beginning. Hard working and trustworthy, he won favor and trust, and enjoyed rising privileges and responsibility.
And then, just as before, Joseph fell victim to the selfishness and deceitfulness of those around him. In his attempt to act with integrity, his master’s wife frames him for attempted rape, landing him in prison. Here is a man who has lived his entire life trying to do the right thing, only to be repeatedly knocked down by those who are threatened by his honesty and good heart. For thirteen years, Joseph lived in captivity in a foreign country. His twenties, a decade spent by most young men building their career and starting a family, was spent largely behind bars.
And yet, he never lost faith.
Joseph’s is one of the great stories of all times – a riches to rags to riches again plot that is undergirded by an unwavering faith in the goodness of God. As a result of his faithful heart, Joseph would rise again. At the age of thirty, he impresses the Pharaoh, and is made second-in-command, moving from the prison to the palace. In charge of grain distribution for the entire nation during a time of famine, gives him the opportunity to not only rise in influence and power, but also to reconcile with his brothers and be reunited with his father.
As I think about Joseph, I find myself wondering how things might have gone differently for him. His move from prison to palace was not by coincidence, but from faithful perseverance in seeking God in his life. It would have been easy for him to become bitter and angry, but instead he sought the presence of the Lord in the midst of a very dark season.
Where do your thoughts turn in the darkness? It is easy to withdraw into a place of self pity and resentment when we find ourselves in seasons of despair. Joseph’s story reminds us that it is during the hard times that our faith matters the most. It is during the hard times that the things that remind us of God’s presence (worship, Bible study, prayer, fasting) must be ever more present in our life. Our faith today leads to blessing not only in the days to come, but the blessing of hope in the here and now.
Before he was reunited with his family, Joseph would receive another set of blessings: the gift of two sons. The first he named Manasseh, and said, “It is because God has made me forget all my trouble…”. The second he named, Ephraim, and said, “It is because God has made me fruitful in the land of my suffering.”
Do you see the theme? Four words weave together both children, and reveal the attitude behind Joseph’s success: “God has made me.”
Just like Joseph, you are a product of God’s love. He has made you. Whether you are in prison or in a palace, God has made you. God is with you. God will see you through.