After the story of Tamar, we pick back up with the life of Joseph, the boy turned slave by his brothers.
Scripture often doesn’t talk about the emotional aspect of events, what people are feeling. There are hints later that Joseph begged for his life from the pit. I wonder what those words were? I wonder how he felt hearing his brothers bargaining for him, settling for a price, money exchanged. What did it feel like to be chained each day, walking for miles through the desert, possibly not knowing the language? Then the humility of the line-up, the auction as he was sold, fearing who his master would be.
But God was in control, even if Joseph was not. God was always with him.
Joseph must have impressed his Ishmaelite captors. They presented him and sold him to Potiphar, captain of Pharaoh’s bodyguard. I’m sure they would not have wanted to pass off an inferior product but wanted to sell him their best, boosting their own reputation.
And Joseph did well because “The Lord was with Joseph, so he became a successful man.” Even though Joseph’s circumstances were horrible, he made the best of them, looking for opportunities to serve and serve well. We don’t have any sense he gave into depression or self-pity but met challenges as an opportunities. A quick, obedient learner, he picked up the nuances of the culture and adjusted.
And others took notice: ”Now his master saw that theLord was with him and how the Lord caused all that he did to prosper in his hand. So Joseph found favor in his sight and became his personal servant; and he made him overseer over his house, and all that he owned he put in his charge.”
But success comes with temptations. Others take notice and get jealous. In this case, it was Potiphar’s wife, who probably held the power in the household before Joseph arrived. She used the one power she had over Joseph: sexual power.
Joseph resisted. He knew right from wrong. And even if adultery was permitted in this culture, he knew his sin would be more than against his owner, “How then could I do this great evil and sin against God?”
But doing what is right is not always rewarded. He was entrapped once again, and in the midst of false charges, he was thrown into jail.
Favored son to slave to supervisor to jail. Would it ever end?
But God was continuing to protect Joseph. The punishment for attempted rape for a slave under these circumstances would have been death. And the jail he was placed in was probably under Potiphar’s supervision.
Again, it seems Joseph did not give into discouragement and depression. “The Lord was with Joseph and extended kindness to him… and whatever he did, the Lord made to prosper.”
How do I handle the ups and downs of my life?
I have to confess, sometimes, when I feel trapped, I give into my feelings. I don’t see challenges as opportunities. I wallow in my pit, feeling alone, instead of asking God, “What’s next?”
God has never left me, even in darkness, and there always is something coming up “next.”