PSALM 105:17-19: “He had sent a man ahead of them, Joseph, who was sold as a slave. His feet were hurt with fetters; his neck was put in a collar of iron; until what he had said came to pass, the word of the Lord tested him.” (ESV)
OBSERVATION: Have you ever been greatly disappointed? You felt the Lord had clearly spoken to you, you could see your life through these words, and then suddenly – everything takes an abrupt turn for the worse. What happens next is exactly the opposite of both the word and your expectations. Your thoughts are – “Surely the Lord has forsaken me.”
Have you ever thought about how Joseph felt? He was the youngest of his brothers before Benjamin was born. The Lord had spoken to him in dreams and visions. His father had favored him with a coat of many colors. Joseph had excitedly shared his vision with both his father and his brothers. He loved them both, and would do anything for them. Coming to simply bring his brothers some supplies, and no doubt contemplating the dreams and visions the Lord had given him, everything takes a turn for the worse. His love is reciprocated with hatred and jealousy. He finds himself in a pit and in fetters. He is sold as a slave. Surely the Lord had forsaken him.
Yet, what a wonderful blessing it is to be able to see the whole life of Joseph. We are not able to view our whole life, but God is no respecter of persons. We can learn a lot about God’s dealings and faithfulness in our lives by seeing how he dealt in faithfulness with those who have gone before us. The Psalmist reminds us – Joseph being sold as a slave was no accident. It was the sovereign orchestration of events by the hand of an all seeing and all loving God. What looked like a giant setback for Joseph was in reality the testing and learning ground for a young man that was being sent and positioned to save his entire family, and the future nation of Israel. Through Joseph’s obedience to the Lord, through God’s redemption of his life, he was used to provide for his immediate family during the great famine, and to provide a land where his family would thrive and grow in to the great nation that would be led to freedom by the Lord’s hand through Moses.
As I look over my life I see two things. I see the mistakes that I have made through my own failures and disobedience. Yet, I also see God’s love, cleansing, forgiveness, and redemption of these things when I called out to Him in true repentance. The second thing I see are the times of great disappointment when things went a totally different direction than I expected. I prayed, spoke to the mountain, marched around it in faith – and there I was, left in the same situation. I have come to see these as God’s time of testing and preparation in the Word for me to build the character and experience I would need to be equipped to help others through times of great difficulty. I have learned that the purposes for which God is preparing me, to be effective in the lives of others, are far more important than my momentary comfort or happiness. I am learning to embrace these times as an obedient child, trusting an all loving and benevolent Father. In all of these times I have never failed to see the hand of God lead me through the valley and bring me to His desired end.
This calls me to change my perspective on life. I am no longer setting “my expectations” as the compass point from which I sail through life. I am seeking “His will”, listening to “His voice”, and trusting in “His unending love and faithfulness” when I am faced with storms and mountains that seem to last longer than usual. I have learned the difference between an attack of the enemy to discourage my faith, and the loving hand of discipline and instruction of the Father to temper my faith. There is a distinct difference and one that we all must learn. One brings me to great frustration and despair (the attacks of the enemy). The other brings me to great humility and faith in the love and faithfulness of God (the Father’s discipline).
O Lord, this morning I simply want to praise You and thank You for Your steadfast love. You are faithful. You have begun a good work in me, and You will complete it! There is nothing this day that can separate me from Your Love! There is no mountain, no valley, no storm in life that can rob me of Your destiny in my life – if I but cling to You in faith! This morning I cling to You, my Rock, and my Fortress. In Jesus Name!