Tough times are nothing new. Whether in your personal life or in the general troubled times in the world, a common gripe is, “Where is God in this mess?”
Whether or not we see Him, we can be sure He’s right there on His throne. We can also be sure we matter to Him. Remember, God knows the end from the beginning. He will sometimes allow turmoil because the bumpy road may be the only way to get to the final destiny. It also might be the only way to get our attention. Pride may get in the way, and we don’t hear His voice leading us. Instead of following His lead, we do things our own way, which never works out for the best. When that happens, God allows our misdeeds to serve as lessons that mold us.
“But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive” (Genesis 50:19).
Let’s take a look now at the story of Jacob’s twelve sons. The sons were a bit unruly. Their sibling rivalry probably came from Jacob having sons from 4 different women. Ten of those boys brought much trouble to Jacob, but not Joseph. He was Jacob’s favorite and was a bit spoiled. Joseph was the son of the woman Jacob loved, which was the reason behind the favoritism.
God knew there would be a drought, and His chosen people needed protection, so He allowed things to occur which would eventually prove to be fortunate. The older sons were away tending the flocks, and Jacob sent Joseph to check on them.
“And when they saw him afar off, even before he came near unto them, they conspired against him to slay him” (Genesis 37:18).
They despised their younger brother. Only Reuben stood up for him and said not to kill Joseph but throw him into a pit. They decided to sell him to a group of Midianites. Joseph was sold to them for twenty pieces of silver, and off he went to Egypt. The brothers had taken a special coat that Jacob had given to Joseph, dipped it in goat’s blood, and told Jacob they had found the coat. Jacob was heartsick at the thought that Joseph had been killed by a wild animal. Jacob mourned for many days. If only Jacob could have seen beyond his grief and trusted God to have a greater plan, he may have found some comfort.
“And the Midianites sold him into Egypt unto Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh’s, and captain of the guard” (Genesis 37:36).
This would prove to be a blessing. “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).
When things look bleak, remember those words, and remember to love God.
Jacob’s sons continued to disgrace him, but Joseph’s life was better than he could have hoped for. “And the LORD was with Joseph, and he was a prosperous man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian” (Genesis 39:2).
Joseph may have been spoiled by Jacob, but he had also been taught to honor God. Even though he was in a land where pagan gods were worshiped, Joseph only served God Almighty. Potiphar saw that the God Joseph served allowed everything Joseph did to prosper. We can learn from that. No matter where we live, if we honor Jesus, others will see our faith.
“And Joseph found grace in his sight and he served him: and he made him overseer over his house, and all that he had he put into his hand” (Genesis 39:4).
Potiphar gave Joseph, a slave, a high honor. From that time on, the LORD blessed Potiphar’s house because of Joseph.
Things seemed to be good for Joseph, but Satan always wants to make trouble for anyone who serves God Almighty. In Joseph’s case, Potiphar’s wife took a liking to Joseph and tried to seduce him. Joseph refused her advances, and she wasn’t pleased. She continued trying to seduce him, and he continued to refuse. Eventually, she accused Joseph of trying to rape her, and Joseph was sent to prison.
Where was God in all this trouble? “But the LORD was with Joseph and shewed him mercy and gave him favour in the sight of the keeper of the prison” (Genesis 39:21).
Joseph probably couldn’t see any great plan of God in his life, but he still did his best for those in authority. In this case, the keeper of the prison put Joseph over all the other prisoners. Once again, under Joseph’s hand, all went well. Eventually, the king’s butler and baker managed to get thrown into the prison. One night, each had a dream. They both thought their dream was prophetic, and Joseph said he would interpret the dreams. Joseph said the butler’s dream showed he would be released from prison and returned to his position in Pharaoh’s house. Joseph asked the butler to remember him when he was restored. The baker’s dream wasn’t so happy. The baker would be hung, and birds would eat his flesh.
All of this might seem insignificant, but these dreams, as interpreted by Joseph, came true. The butler did remember Joseph and his ability to interpret dreams, but only after two years had passed.
Pharaoh had dreams that upset him. He dreamed of seven fat cows and seven skinny cows. The fat cows fed in the meadow, but the skinny cows ate the fat cows. Then he dreamt of a stalk of corn with seven ears on it. Then seven thin ears also grew and devoured the healthy ears. Pharaoh wanted to know what the dreams meant. None of the magicians of Egypt could give a good answer.
“Then spake the chief butler unto Pharaoh saying, I do remember my faults this day: Pharaoh was wroth with his servants, and put me in ward in the captain of the guard’s house, both me and the chief baker: and we dreamed a dream in one night, I and he; each man according to the interpretation of his dream. And there was with us a young man, an Hebrew, servant to the captain of the guard; and we told him, and he interpreted to us our dreams; to each man according to his dream he did interpret. And it came to pass, as he interpreted to us, so it was; me he restored unto mine office, and him he hanged” (Genesis 41:9-13).
During those two years, did Joseph wonder, “Where is God”? Instead of feeling sorry for himself or getting mad at God, Joseph just kept on serving the LORD. So should it be with us. We may think God has forgotten us, but if we continue to serve Him faithfully, we will eventually understand that He’s always been with us.
Joseph was taken from prison and led to Pharaoh. When Pharaoh told him that he had heard Joseph could understand dreams, Joseph showed no false pride but gave glory to God. “And Joseph answered Pharaoh, saying, It is not in me: God shall give Pharaoh an answer of peace” (Genesis 41:16).
The dreams were told, and Joseph interpreted the dreams as a warning about a coming famine. There would be seven good years followed by seven years of famine. God was showing Pharaoh what would soon happen. Joseph went on to tell Pharaoh that he needed to plan for the seven years of famine by choosing a man to oversee storing grain so that when the famine hit, they wouldn’t starve.
“And Pharaoh said unto his servants, Can we find such a one as this is, a man in whom the Spirit of God is?” (Genesis 41:38).
Joseph had faithfully served God, and now even Pharaoh recognized the Spirit of God in Joseph. God always knows the bigger picture. There was a bigger reason for all of this than protecting a pagan nation.
I wonder how many times Joseph had felt as if God had abandoned him. God hadn’t. In fact, Joseph had an important reason to be where he was. He would save God’s chosen people. Because Joseph did all things to honor God, everyone recognized God in him. Now, Joseph was second only to Pharaoh in power. Joseph had learned humility, and that power didn’t go to his head. He continued to do his best.
“And Joseph was thirty years old when he stood before Pharaoh king of Egypt. And Joseph went out from the presence of Pharaoh, and went throughout all the land of Egypt” (Genesis 41:46).
He accomplished a lot in thirty years, and all was for God’s glory. The interpretation of Pharaoh’s dreams was correct, but because Egypt was prepared, they had more than enough food to help other countries.
“And all countries came into Egypt to Joseph for to buy corn; because that the famine was so sore in all lands” (Genesis 41:57).
Are you beginning to see that God was with Joseph and had His hand over his life? God foresaw everything, and Joseph was the one chosen to save nations.
The wonders don’t stop there. Jacob and his family were also hit hard by the famine. He had heard that Egypt had corn to sell and sent Joseph’s ten older brothers to buy some. Pharaoh had changed Joseph’s name to an Egyptian name, Zaphnathpaaneah, which means “treasury of the glorious rest.” When the brothers came to buy the food, they didn’t recognize their brother after so many years, and his Egyptian name was unrecognizable. Joseph was shocked to see them and didn’t make his identity known right away. He did get even with them a bit, but eventually, he had a feast prepared for them.
When Joseph entered to join them at the feast, he asked about Jacob, then saw his brother Benjamin, whom Joseph insisted be brought to Egypt. He had to leave the room in tears. Joseph was full of emotion. Had he felt anger towards the ten who had sold him to slavery? Seeing Benjamin was overwhelming. The next things that happened are very complicated. Joseph gave them food but planted a cup in Benjamin’s sack. He said that Benjamin was a thief and was to be his slave. They begged for Benjamin to be set free, admitted the evil they had done to Joseph, and said it would be too much for their father to lose another son.
Joseph had enough. He sent all of his servants out, then revealed his true identity to his brothers. It was a very touching family reunion. Joseph is a great example of seeing God’s hand working in circumstances that seem bad.
“And Joseph said unto his brethren, Come near to me, I pray you. And they came near. And he said, I am Joseph your brother, whom ye sold into Egypt. Now therefore be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither: for God did send me before you to preserve life. For these two years hath the famine been in the land: and yet there are five years, in the which there shall neither be earing nor harvest. And God sent me before you to preserve you a posterity in the earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance. So now it was not you that sent me hither, but God: and He hath made me a father to pharaoh, and lord of all his house, and a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt” (Genesis 45:4-8).
God used Joseph to preserve the nation of Israel, and the whole world has been blessed. It was through that nation that Jesus Christ, the Messiah, was born.
When trouble comes your way, do you question God or get angry with Him?
As we read about Joseph, we can clearly see God’s hand leading all the way. We don’t always see how troubles in our own life can possibly work for good, but if God is honored, you can be assured that God is working everything for good. You might ask, “Where is God” as a pandemic is destroying lives. Where is God as the US abandons Afghanistan, and we watch as pure evil comes to power with people being tortured and killed? I have no idea what good can come out of it, but I do know that God hasn’t turned away.
Prophecy is moving forward, and it won’t be long until God calls all Christians Home in the Rapture. Put your faith in Him today, and honor Him in all you do. Even if you question “Where is God,” if you believe in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, you can rest assured that God is with you in all things.
God bless you all,
All original scripture is “theopneustos,” God-breathed.
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