Thursday, November 11, 2010

Joseph’s Success In Jail - Genesis 39:21-23

But the Lord was with Joseph and extended kindness to him, and gave him favor in the sight of the chief jailer. And the chief jailer committed to Joseph’s charge all the prisoners who were in the jail; so that whatever was done there, he was responsible for it. The chief jailer did not supervise anything under Joseph’s charge because the Lord was with him; and whatever he did, the Lord made to prosper.

There is nothing better that could happen to a person either already in trouble or heading towards it than to have a “but God” inserted into his or her life as was the case with Joseph at the beginning of this portion of scripture. And often that “but” is accompanied with the very presence of God. The text says, “But the Lord was with Joseph”.

For some humanly unknown reason Joseph was treated kindly in prison by the jailers. Yet the text says it was God who did that. It was also God who actually “gave him favor” with the chief jailer. Here is a beautiful account of how God wants to be involved in the lives of His children. He wants to be with us. He wants to extend kindness to us through others. He wants to have us succeed in the long run.

As we read what the chief jailer does, putting all the prisoners in the jail under Joseph’s charge, we think, “here we go again; the kid still has his charm and skills and abilities!” Do you ever wonder why, besides the obvious fact that God was with him, Joseph rises to the top of his situation and environment again? I think it is because the gifts and strengths that God builds into us, or entrusts to us, in our character and personality and the way we operate are gifts that are lasting and transferable to wherever He places us. Also He may have trained us in one situation and now wants to use us in another.

We should also note that Joseph did not say to the chief jailer, “No thanks; been there, done that and I got burned in big way last time. Just give the responsibility to someone else, please.” No, he accepted what “God” was handing him again through the jailer. In that new position, he gained the trust of his authority and became responsible for all that was done by and through the prisoners. And the text says that the chief jailer stayed out of the way “because the Lord was with” Joseph. Trust had been lost in Potiphar’s house and had been regained in prison. When things go badly for the true child of God, some of the world may be finished with him or her, but God is not.

I recently had to deal with an issue of trust in ministry. Because of the situation, it was mutually agreed by the individual and the organization involved that there should be a parting of the ways. But I am convinced that God is not finished with that individual; He is not finished using their strengths and talents. It will be a matter of where and how and the individual’s willingness to let God interfere with a ‘but God’ and with His presence.

This section of scripture ends with “and whatever (Joseph) did, the Lord made to prosper.” It is God allowing the succeeding, not Joseph in this case, not the jailer’s wise supervision, not you or I in our own case, not because of those around us – but God. It is my prayer that each of us sees the mighty presence of God’s hand in all that we do each day and for the rest of our lives. When we notice that, we can then start asking Him to make evident His ultimate intent and purpose for our situation and life. God’s purpose for Joseph was about to be revealed. Stay tuned.

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