“And Joseph’s master took him, and put him into the prison, a place where the king’s prisoners were bound: and he was there in the prison.”
Genesis 39: 20
King James Version
“When You’re in the Dumps or Dungeon”
Joseph Does Time in the Slammer
“God did not say, ‘Thou shalt not be tempted, thou shalt not be travailed, thou shalt not be distressed; but He said, ‘Thou shalt not be overcome.’”
Julian of Norwich
Is there an adverse situation in my life right now that is causing me great desperation?
How has this situation affected my life each day?
“The Promised Land always lies on the other side of a wilderness.”
“In a dark time, the eye begins to see.”
Several years ago, my husband and I were staying at a hotel built deep in a canyon away from any artificial light. Late in the evening Jim took a walk on a path that went into a wooded area. He later described his adventure as a walk in the “darkest” place he had ever been.
Of course, my first question when be was telling me about his experience was, “How could you find your way?”
He said that an unusual thing happened. After being in this dark environment for a few minutes, he could begin to see the outline of trees and follow the pathway cleared in the woods. It may have been dark, but he still had his sight. He could still see.
This is what happened to Joseph. Talk about a life filled with darkness. First, as a young boy, he lost his beloved mother, Rachel. While he was his father’s favored, the pampering by his dad only put him in a bad light with his “step-siblings” whose jealousy boiled over into murderous hate.
With such contempt for their younger brother, Joseph’s brothers finally thought they’d gotten rid of the pain-in-the-neck by selling him as a slave to the Ishmeelite merchants.
In Egypt, purchased by one of Pharaoh’s big-wigs, Joseph was quickly promoted and had the blessed hand of God aiding him in all he did. By this time, I would have begun to breathe a sigh of relief, thinking that perhaps things in my life were looking up.
But instead of being honored for his integrity and industriousness, his boss’s wife, Mrs. Potiphar, falsely accused Joseph of sexual indiscretion and his boss, Mr. Potiphar, had him tossed into prison like a criminal.
If you had been Joseph, wouldn’t you have felt as though God had let you down? I will be quite honest, Joseph had every reason to despair. His mother had died, his brothers sold him as a slave and an oversexed woman accused him of something he didn’t do. And all Joseph had done was “lift up a standard” for his God. His motives were pure. His heart was right. He could look God in the eye and say, “I’m yours,” with a clear conscience. Yet, from all outward appearances, if you judged Joseph by his prison garb, you might think God had abandoned him and that he should be in a state of depression, despondency and despair. But he wasn’t! Praise God!
The apostle Paul, in his second letter to the Christians in Corinth wrote these encouraging words: “We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair” (II Corinthians 4: 8, K.J.V.). In the Greek translation this is how this particular passage reads: “We suffer but we are not cramped in or hemmed in; we are facing doubt but we are not utterly at a loss.”
I love this! Like Joseph, you and I may suffer. You may be in a prison of poor health or tumultuous family relations or financial upheaval – you may hurt but you and I will never be hemmed in by our problems. You and I may be blanketed by a cloud of doubt amidst the trauma that hits us like a tidal wave, however, we will NEVER be utterly lost. There’s a way of escape. We can rely on a God who NEVER “slumbers or sleeps.” We can rely on a Savior who promises, “My peace I leave with you.” And who also promised that, “I will come again and receive you unto myself.” WOW!
Down in the dark dungeon, in a place where Joseph had a hard time seeing God’s loving hand at work, guess what happened? Joseph found out he could still see. He saw a gracious God who kept His promise, “I will NEVER leave you or forsake you.” And it was the God who keeps His promises to His children that Joseph recognized at work even in the prison. Genesis 39: 21, (K.J.V.) unfurls the flag of the King of the Universe: “But the Lord was with Joseph, and shewed him mercy, and gave him favour in the sight of the keeper of the prison.”
Are you suffering? Are you doubting your God? Is it too dark to see Him? Keep looking, for soon, even in the darkness of your dungeon, you’ll see two hands of love, engraved with your name, at work. For our God has plans for us – wonderful plans filled with the favour of a loving Father.
“It is impossible for that (woman) to despair who remembers that (her) Helper is Omnipotent.”
“How long will you be absent? For ever? Oh Lord! Have you forgotten to be gracious, and have you shut up your loving kindness in displeasure? Will you be no more entreated? Is your mercy clean gone for ever, and your promise come utterly to an end for ever? Why do you wait for so long? Shall I despair of your mercy? Oh, God! Far be that from me; for you know better than I what is good for me. Therefore do with me in all things what you will.”
Lady Jane Grey
(Based on Psalm 89: 46)
Dorothy Valcarcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus