Joseph had just been tossed into a cistern by his brothers. Although his brothers initially wanted to kill him, they decided to sell him to a band of Ishmaelite merchants who were on their way to Egypt. After all, there was no profit in killing their brother. But if they sold him into slavery, they could make some money while sparing themselves the guilt of having killed their brother.
As the Ishmaelite merchants dragged Joseph away, he pleaded with his brothers for mercy. But his pleas fell on deaf ears and were coldly ignored. Joseph must have been in a state of shock and overwhelmed with disbelief. After all, who would have expected this?
Joseph was brought to Egypt where he was sold to Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh and Captain of the Guard. Joseph must have believed that his life was over. His freedom was gone, and his dreams were taken away. As a slave, his future was uncertain at best.
Well, not exactly… Although all seemed lost, the scriptures reveal one important fact. God never forgot Joseph. According to Genesis 39: 2, “the Lord was with Joseph, and he was a successful man… And his master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord made all he did to prosper in his hand. So, Joseph found favor in his sight, and he served him.” (Genesis 39: 2-4) This is an important scripture. Joseph’s brothers may have betrayed him, but God would never abandon him. Although he was now a slave, God was with him, blessed him, and made him successful. In fact, God’s blessings upon Joseph were so great that even Potiphar realized that God was with him in all that he did. So, Potiphar put Joseph in charge of his house. As a result, God blessed all that Potiphar had for the sake of Joseph.
Just when all seemed to be going well for Joseph, his life took another bad turn. Now, Joseph was a handsome man, and his “good looks” did not go unnoticed by Potiphar’s wife who was – let us say - less than faithful. Day after day, she tried to seduce Joseph. Day after day, he turned down her advances. Finally, after rejecting one of her more brazen overtures, she falsely accused Joseph of making improper and unwanted advances towards her. Believing his wife’s story, Potiphar had Joseph thrown into prison.
After this terrible turn of events, one might have expected Joseph to give up. Who would have blamed him for losing faith in God? Although most would have reacted this way, Joseph did not. Joseph knew God, and he knew that God was with him. While he may have become discouraged and confused about all that was transpiring in his life, Joseph always seemed to be aware of God’s presence in his life. God made sure of this!
Notice what the scriptures tell us in Genesis 39: 21, “The Lord was with Joseph and showed him mercy, and He gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison… And the keeper of the prison committed to Joseph’s hand all the prisoners who were in the prison. The keeper of the prison did not look into anything that was under Joseph’s authority, because the Lord was with him, and whatever he did, the Lord made it prosper.” Just like before, God blessed everything that Joseph did, so much so, that the keeper of the prison put Joseph over everything.
Okay, God was with Joseph! But why did God allow him to go through all that he did? Why didn’t God prevent such terrible things from happening to him? Surely, Joseph asked these questions as well. However, at some point, Joseph must have realized that God was using – actually ordained - his terrible ordeal for some divine purpose that was yet to be revealed. This is an important key to understanding all that happened to Joseph.
It was now time for God to fulfill His purpose in Joseph’s life – some thirteen years after arriving in Egypt. God gave to Pharaoh two dreams that none of his wise men or magicians could interpret. It was then that Pharaoh’s cupbearer remembered Joseph. Now, Joseph had a gift for interpreting dreams, and the cupbearer knew it. So, the cupbearer explained to Pharaoh how Joseph had once correctly interpreted his dream and that of a baker when they were in prison. With this information, Pharaoh commanded that Joseph be taken from prison and brought before him. We know the rest of the story. Joseph interpreted Pharaoh’s dreams and was made ruler over all of Egypt. Except for Pharaoh, no one in Egypt was greater than Joseph. It was for this reason that Joseph was betrayed and suffered. God had plans for Joseph.
Joseph came to understand the direction of God’s divine providence in his life. Nine years later, when Joseph revealed himself to his brothers, he said, “But now, do not therefore be grieved or angry with yourselves because you sold me here for God sent me before you to save life… And God sent me before you to preserve a posterity for you in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance. So now, it was not you who sent me here but God; and He has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house, and a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt.” (Genesis 45: 5, 7-8)
God has promised that He will never leave us or forsake us. As believers, we should never forget this. We may go through trials. We may go through difficulties. But God will never abandon us. In fact, if we are willing to walk faithfully and obediently before Him, God will bless all that we do and grant us favor in the eyes of others. We should also remember that trials, difficulties, and disappointments do not mean that God has forgotten us. It may well be that God is using us to help someone else or bring glory to His Name. It could also be that God is preparing us for some divine purpose that is yet to be revealed. So, when trials and difficulties come our way, we should remember God’s promise that He will never leave us or forsake us. (Joshua 1: 5; Hebrews 13: 5)