From the Prison Walls to the Palace, The Waiting Periods of Life
Psalm 105:19, "Until the time came to fulfill his dreams, the Lord tested Joseph's character."
Joseph... have you heard his story? If not, you can read all about him in Genesis 37-50. I'll give you a very brief summary of him, though.
Joseph was a boy who had dreams. This time, I'm talking about someone literally dreaming about something. Joseph was treated as his father's favorite son. He was so favored that he was given a coat of many colors. He was the youngest of his brothers until Benjamin came along. Joseph's brothers were jealous of him, though. They planned to kill him until Reuben suggested throwing him into a cistern instead. After they threw him into the cistern, they saw a group of Ishmaelite traders who were about to go down to Egypt. Then a new idea popped into their minds... they'd sell him instead.
At this point, Joseph's story seems to be ending, but surprisingly, it's just beginning.
Joseph was purchased by Potiphar who was an Egyptian officer and captain of the guard for Pharaoh, the king of Egypt. Because of God being with Joseph, he succeeded in everything he did. Potiphar's wife decided to lie about Joseph which landed him in prison; yet in the midst of this, God still had his eye on Joseph. Eventually, "Pharaoh said to Joseph, 'I hereby put you in charge of the entire land of Egypt.'" Genesis 41:41.
What stood out to me when I read Psalm 105:19 was that through everything Joseph was going though, God was testing his character. Can you imagine being sold by your own family? being lied about and then imprisoned for a crime you didn't commit? being left in prison for years before the people you helped remembered to tell Pharaoh about you?
When it seemed as if Joseph had been betrayed and forgotten, God was up to something all along.
While thinking about Joseph's story, I am reminded of my own. I like to call these times the waiting periods of life. Just like Joseph was waiting for his dreams to come to pass, we all are waiting for something. In those waiting periods, it can feel as if God's forgotten us, though.
We know how Joseph's story ends. His dreams came true. He was reunited with his family. He was moved from a prison cell into the palace.
He couldn't see the end of his story from those prison walls, though. In that moment, his character was being tested.
Joseph could've grown bitter. He could've given up on life all together. He could've had a pity party which in all honesty would've been justified. However, this isn't what he chose to do. Instead, he grew where he was planted.
Genesis 39:21-22 says, "But the Lord was with Joseph in the prison and showed him his faithful love. And the Lord made Joseph a favorite with the prison warden. Before long, the warden put Joseph in charge of all the other prisoners and over everything that happened in the prison."
Do you notice that God was with Joseph through it all?
Whether you feel like it or not, He is with each of us through it all too. I truly believe that Joseph was able to be a vessel that God used because he trusted God even when he didn't understand. He did what he could where God had placed him, and God blessed him and made him succeed in all he did.
After many years of Joseph's character being tested, there is evidence that his character was godly. You see, in the end, Joseph was able to see things through God's perspective instead of through a human perspective. In Genesis 50:20 (one of my all time favorite verses), Joseph said, "You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people."
Have you ever stopped to think that maybe just maybe God was up to something bigger in the midst of what seemed to be the end of your story?
When a relationship falls through that you expected to last a lifetime...
When a job lays you off when you planned to retire there...
When everything you ever hoped for seems to be so far out of reach...
Where is God in all of this? He is with you. He is with me. He is right there in the midst of our seemingly huge mess.
I found a verse the other day that brought great comfort to my heart. That verse is Psalm 37:23 which says, "The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives."
I must admit that in the recent months I've wondered how God could be using my broken dreams for a bigger purpose. I've struggled with trying to figure out the answer as to why things happened the way they did. Why did things not work out that I thought for sure should have? Why did my dreams seem so close at hand only to be blown away at a time that seemed too soon? I finally found peace when I found this verse and realized that God is directing my steps and delighting in every detail of my life. It hasn't been going the way I expected, but I now can see how God is testing my character as I am in this waiting period of life.
Whatever you may be going through, remember that you're not alone. God is up to something. Follow Him, and He will get you to where you're supposed to be.
Dear Heavenly Father,
I find great comfort in realizing that when I can't see what You're up to, You still have a plan and are working on my behalf. Lord, just as I'm sure Joseph didn't plan on being sold by his brothers or imprisoned for a crime he didn't commit, I haven't planned on some of the things in my life either. Thank You for the story of Joseph, though, so that I can see that You have a bigger plan in mind than what I can see. Help my character grow in You in this waiting period of life. Let it prove to be a godly character that is in me that sees things not through human eyes but rather through God's eyes. In Jesus' Name.
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