Read His Words Before Ours!
Lost, alone, and forgotten.
Discouraged, hurt, and betrayed.
We all experience these along our journeys.
These feelings were all too familiar to another wilderness wanderer, Joseph. Great-grandson of the Hebrew patriarch, Abraham, Joseph was one of 12 sons. More specifically, Joseph was his father’s favorite son, a fact which did little to endear him to his brothers.
Joseph was further divided against his brothers by his special gift of dreams.
Dreams centering on his older brothers, and even parents, serving him. (Genesis 37:1-11) Dreams he enthusiastically shared with his family, without forethought, wisdom, or humility. You see, Joseph wasn’t perfect. Today, we would call him immature or even a brat. Finally, the family dysfunction reached a point where, embittered with hatred against Joseph, his brothers sold him as a slave. (Genesis 37:12-36)
Purchased by a rich Egyptian, Joseph was betrayed, alone, and forgotten. I’m sure Joseph wondered, “Why?” Why the dreams? Why the hatred? Why the pain? Similarly, when we are in our own wilderness, we may ask God, “Why?”
Sometimes, there may be an obvious answer, and we can use that understanding to help us learn, or navigate our way through the trial.
Other times, however, our “why”s are met with silence.
Wrestling with the unknown becomes a part of our wilderness story.
For Joseph, no clear answer was forthcoming.
Yet he continued to cling to God.
In Egypt, “The Lord was with Joseph [. . . and] Joseph found favor with his master.” (Genesis 39:2-4) Unfortunately, this same master would ultimately imprison Joseph for a crime he didn’t commit. (Genesis 39:3-20)
Even in prison, “the Lord was with Joseph and extended kindness to him. He granted him favor with the prison warden” (Genesis 39:21), and soon, all prisoners were under Joseph’s authority. Still, this wasn’t enough to earn his release; he was trapped, with no way out.
Ironically, the same supernatural gift that first thrust Joseph into the wilderness would be the means of his freedom. While in prison, a series of God-empowered dream interpretations took Joseph from the lowest position in Egypt to second-in-command. (Genesis 40, 41) In his new role, Joseph was tasked with storing enough crops to feed the entire country during a subsequent famine. (Genesis 41:46-57)
The famine was the final step in the fulfillment of Joseph’s boyhood dreams, as his brothers found themselves bowing before him with requests for food to sustain their families. (Genesis 42:5-6)
In this moment, possessing all the power to exact revenge and presented with the perfect opportunity to wield it, we see the work of wilderness time in Joseph’s heart.
He extended forgiveness to his family.
“But Joseph said to them, ‘Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You planned evil against me; God planned it for good to bring about the present result–the salvation of many people. Therefore, don’t be afraid. I will take care of you and your children.’ And he comforted them and spoke kindly to them.” (Genesis 50:19-21)
At last, Joseph understood the answer to all the “why”s.
Why the dreams?
Why the slavery?
Why the prison?
So Joseph would be in the right place, at the appointed time. God crafted every step to position Joseph in Egypt, at the palace, before the famine, to save many lives.
The nice thing about Joseph’s story is we already know the ending. But, when Joseph was bound to other slaves, stumbling through desert sands on the way to Egypt, he didn’t understand what was happening, or why. He was deep in the wilderness of the unknown.
Our future is unknown to us. We will have wilderness seasons like Joseph. We may not be sold into slavery or tossed in prison, but we will feel lost, alone, and forgotten.
Yet Joseph’s story reminds us God has not forgotten us.
Psalm 94:17-19 declares God’s love is unfailing and He brings us joy. Our circumstances do not define us. We are God’s, and He has not left us alone.
In Matthew 28:20, Jesus concludes the Great Commission by promising, “And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” We may feel left alone in this world by those around us, but the Lord is always with us.
We are not lost; He is leading us.
We are not alone; He is with us.
We are not forgotten; He is working in us and through us.
Wilderness Wanderer, though we may not understand all the “why”s right now, we can hear Joseph’s heart echo across the generations . . . cling to faith . . . find joy . . . embrace hope . . . for God is with us, and He is working out His plan. Even in the wilderness.
Embracing God’s fullness in our lives is rooted in scripture and memorizing His word is vital to our continued growth and depth with Jesus. Tap and hold from your mobile device to download this week’s verse and make it your phone’s lockscreen!