Do you ever feel trapped by the pain in your life?
Do you ever feel as though you are a prisoner even though you are not behind bars?
This week we find Joseph in a literal prison. First, let’s look at how he went from the pit to prison. After he was lifted out of the pit his brothers had put him in, Joseph was sold into slavery in Egypt. Potiphar, an Egyptian who was a top government official, bought him. During his time of serving Potiphar, we are told the Lord was with Joseph so that he found favor and became Potiphar’s attendant. Potiphar eventually put Joseph in charge of his household and entrusted everything he owned to him.
In a foreign land, away from everything familiar, Joseph had become a piece of property working to fulfill someone else’s dreams. But, did you catch the most important part? God was with Joseph and everything he did produce blessings for his master. This was far from that pit-stop of abandonment!
Now enter Potiphar’s wife.
The Bible tells us that Joseph was well-built and handsome. Potiphar’s wife took notice of this and she constantly tried to entice Joseph to sleep with her, but he refused. One day, after making another advance, she grabbed his robe as Joseph fled. When Potiphar came home, she lied and said,
“That Hebrew slave you brought us came to me to take advantage of me. But as soon as I screamed for help, he left his cloak beside me and ran out of the house. When his master heard the story his wife told him, saying, ‘This is how your slave treated me,’ he burned with anger. Joseph’s master took him and put him in prison, the place where the king’s prisoners were confined.” Gen 39: 17-20
Joseph again went from a place of blessing to a place of pain in an instant.
I have experienced this. How about you? Can you recall a low point in your life? When something good has been replaced with something painful? Have you asked God, “Why did you allow this to happen? What are you doing in my life?”
The way our circumstances feel sometimes tries to hijack our response. But God reminds us of this important truth: our pain and how we feel are temporary. Our response is permanent.
Our response to our pain is more important than the reality of our circumstances.
Rather than focusing on his questions and feelings, Joseph chose to look up and allow God to make his false imprisonment right in the end. We, too, have a choice of what to do in our pain. We can ask God to help us put our problems in perspective by looking up!
God has the capacity to take what was meant to hold us behind bars and turn it around. If we look up and ask God for His perspective, He can help us interpret our pain through the lens of His purpose.
Only God is capable of helping us shift our perspective to see His plan.
That doesn’t mean it’s easy! It simply means that the redemption of our pain for a far bigger purpose is possible. When unexpected pain surfaces in our lives, it’s actually an opportunity to shift our gaze upward rather than inward or outward.
This begs the question, “Can we trust that God does not orchestrate pointless suffering in our lives?” And then, “Can we start to believe that He redeems our suffering, giving us the grace to endure it?”