And the Lord was with Joseph...(Genesis 39:2)
Four times in Genesis 39, we read a phrase that appears nowhere else in Joseph’s story. Joseph has been betrayed by his brothers, carried to a foreign land, and sold as a slave to an Egyptian official named Potiphar. Joseph’s situation looks bleak, but God has not forgotten Joseph.
The LORD was with Joseph, and he became a successful man, and he was in the house of his Egyptian master. His master saw that the LORD was with him and that the LORD caused all that he did to succeed in his hands.
When Joseph refuses the sexual advances of Potiphar’s wife, she accuses him of attempting to rape her. Potiphar will never take the word of a foreign slave over his own wife, so he arrests Joseph and throws him in prison. But God has not forgotten Joseph.
But the LORD was with Joseph and showed him steadfast love and gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison.… The keeper of the prison paid no attention to anything that was in Joseph's charge, because the LORD was with him (Gen 39:21-23).
At the lowest point in Joseph’s life, Genesis 39 reminds us repeatedly that “God was with Joseph.”
Ministry can be hard. You may be misunderstood. You may be mistreated. And worst of all, you may feel that you are alone in the battle.
Andrew Brunson was held in a Turkish prison for two years for preaching the gospel. In God’s Hostage, he wrote, “Being in prison wasn’t my crisis. The book of James promises persecution. That was ok. My struggle was the feeling of abandonment. I had expected strength to pour into me. I had expected to feel an overwhelming sense of grace. Instead, I felt like Job – alone in my suffering.”
Job felt alone in his suffering. Andrew Brunson felt alone. Sold into slavery by his brothers, falsely accused of a crime and held in a foreign prison, Joseph may have felt alone. But “God was with him.”
Remembering his years in a Turkish prison, Andrew Brunson wrote although he did not feel God’s presence, “I learned to hold fast to the promise that God will make all things right in the end.”
Pastor, when ministry is hard, know that God is with you. When you feel alone, know that He has not forgotten you. On the darkest days, God is with you.
Omnipresent God, in difficult times, I find it easy to forget that you are with me. I try to fight my battles alone. I am tempted to rely on my own strength. Today, help me to live with a moment-by-moment awareness of your presence in my life. In Jesus’ name, Amen.