Welcome to Egypt!

“Meanwhile, the Midianites sold Joseph in Egypt to Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh and the captain of the guards.” (Genesis 37:36)

“Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Now that your father and brothers have come to you, the land of Egypt is open before you; settle your father and brothers in the best part of the land. They can live in the land of Goshen. If you know of any capable men among them, put them in charge of my livestock.” (Genesis 47:5-6)

No idea what Egyptian road signs existed in 1700BC, but it doesn’t take much to imagine that Joseph and Jacob would have had different emotions if they passed one welcoming them to the country.

Joseph: “What just happened? I don’t want to be here. God, why did you let this happen?”

Jacob: “What is happening? I’m so glad to be here. God, how can I thank you?”

Genesis 37-47 recounts many of the most familiar biblical dramas. Dramas that were foreshadowed in dreams. Dramas that no one saw coming. Dramas with immediate answers to questions. Dramas where silence still lingers.

Our lives aren’t much different.

Rolling along with seemingly no problems, then WHAM! Welcome to hatred, to betrayal, to dysfunction, to lies, to prison, to loss, to loneliness, to misunderstanding, to abandonment, to…..

Or doing the best with what’s been handed to us, then SURPRISE! Welcome to blessing, to grace, to forgiveness, to renewal, to acceptance, to explanation, to honor, to peace, to hope, to…..

We can learn many truths from Jacob and Joseph’s lives. Today, wherever and whatever you’ve been welcomed to, know that God has walked with many of his children through their whams and surprises. He goes to Egypt with you. How do I know? Here are some other verses within these same Genesis chapters:

“The Lord was with Joseph, and he became a successful man, serving in the household of his Egyptian master.” (Genesis 39:2)

“But the Lord was with Joseph and extended kindness to him. He granted him favor with the prison warden.” (Genesis 39:21)

“Israel set out with all that he had and came to Beer-sheba, and he offered sacrifices to the God of his father Isaac. That night God spoke to Israel in a vision: ‘Jacob, Jacob!’ he said.

And Jacob replied, ‘Here I am.’

God said, ‘I am God, the God of your father. Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for I will make you into a great nation there. I will go down with you to Egypt, and I will also bring you back. Joseph will close your eyes when you die.’” (Genesis 46:1-4)

Welcome to Egypt! You are not alone!

Photo by Spencer Davis on Unsplash

37 Years of Fear

I came across a 6-day reading plan on YouVersion that is worth rereading over and over. The reading plan is called “Turn Your Wounds To Scars” by Vijay Thangiah. Day 4’s devotion touches on the importance of learning how to forgive in order for wounds to become scars. For a biblical example of someone putting this into practice, Day 5’s devotion goes to the end of Genesis. Take a guess at who the example is.

If you said Joseph, you’re correct. Joseph got wounded by just about everyone in his life. He bore many scars. Yet, he is lifted as a great example of forgiveness because of this statement to his brothers in chapter 50:

But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.

That’s a statement from a scar, not a wound.

In all my readings and hearing messages about this passage, I’ve never heard the following statement that was in Day 5’s devotional:

His brothers on the other hand had never been able to forgive themselves for the wrong that they had done to Joseph and were constantly living in fear. So 37 years after they threw him down a well and having lived under his gracious care for 20 years, once their father Jacob dies, they are still afraid that Joseph will seek revenge against them.

What this portrays is the weight we carry when we don’t understand or practice how to forgive ourselves. Joseph’s brothers were not afraid because of a recent act. Their fear was 37 years old. That’s a long time for the enemy to wreak havoc.

That havoc, unfortunately, may not live in just one heart. It may leak out into many relationships resulting in many wounds that have nothing to do with the original wound. 

Your healing is possible. And it may actually start with you forgiving you.

Photo Credit: Unsplash/Felix Koutchinski

Prison Time

“and had him thrown into prison, where the king’s prisoners were confined. So Joseph was there in prison. But the Lord was with Joseph and extended kindness to him. He granted him favor with the prison warden. The warden put all the prisoners who were in the prison under Joseph’s authority, and he was responsible for everything that was done there.”‭‭Genesis‬ ‭39:20-22‬ ‭CSB‬‬

Well, that sounds fun. I’m sure this was exactly what Josph prayed for, and he went in rejoicing that his prayers once again had been heard. SMH

To this point in his life, it’s hard to imagine that Joseph could have had a clue what his life’s purpose was. Regardless what his spiritual gifts assessment revealed or what an elder suggested was his calling, how in the world do you explain his life experiences to date. Yet constantly scripture reads, “The Lord was with him.”

These verses were in my @youversion devotion today addressing the topic of drudgery. Here are a few lines from the devotional thoughts:

What we call drudgery God calls humble and helpful service to others. Patient and steady toil, honoring God right where he put you, in some ways is just as worshipful as singing hymns in church. If you can do it without complaining, all the better.

“Right where he put you.” That’s a challenge. We allow ourselves to see only prison bars (been there, done that). We may even go so far as to break out of jail and basically snub God by saying, under our breath of course, “You Screwed Up…AGAIN!” That view is a flashing neon sign we have stopped thinking more about others and God than ourselves. Joseph’s prison season was quite short compared to his future season of purpose. He didn’t know that at the time, though. He had to trust God was with him and had actually put him there.

If your facing “prison time,” consider these questions:

  • What’s this season for?
  • What’s your trust level in God’s presence and purpose? 
  • How can you honor God in the next 24 hours right where he put you?

Adversity: The Integrity Test

Adversity. No one wants it, but when we get it we gain so much. Sometimes that gain feels immediate. Other times it may seem decades before we realize it. I believe the latter was Joseph’s experience (for a refresher, read Genesis 37-50). However long it took him, here’s how he let us know his gain:

You planned evil against me; God planned it for good to bring about the present result-the survival of many people. (Genesis 50:20)

A mindset toward gain from adversity is found in Joseph’s statement. The mindset is vertical (about God), not horizontal (about man). Rather than looking at what man or circumstances have planned, he had learned to look at what God had planned. Easier said than done in the face of adversity, right?

I want to suggest that one preparation we can make before adversity knocks on the door is to make a commitment to integrity.

A commitment to integrity in the face of adversity will…

  • …guard against fear invasion (horizontal).
  • …ward off impulsive reaction (horizontal) giving foundation for calm decisions (vertical).
  • …raise the banner for complete transparency (vertical).
  • …remove selfish ambition (horizontal) to bring in a kingdom mindset (vertical).

Maybe you haven’t considered that integrity is what’s being tested in your adversity. There’s no way around the reality that adversity peels back the layers and shows everyone who we really are. How are you preparing for that revelation? How can you study for the integrity test?