Summary: One minute Joseph is a seventeen- year-old boy with all of his life ahead of him and in the next a slave who’s only prospect is a life of drudgery. A look at how he hands disappointment.
“When Life is The Pits”
A Study of the Life of Joseph
Sermon # 4
“Dealing With Disappointment”
Genesis 39:20-23 – 40:1-8, 14, 21-23
For the last several weeks we have been engaged in the study of a man by the name of Joseph. Joseph was from a classic dysfunctional family. Joseph had three step- mothers and six step brothers all living in the house at the same time. Joseph is his father’s favorite child and Jacob, his father, is unwise enough to openly display his favoritism. The result is that Joseph’s brothers are jealous and they grow to hate him. His brothers scheme until given the opportunity, they devise a way to sell Joseph into slavery in Egypt and convince their father that he has been killed by wild animals. One minute he is a seventeen- year-old boy with all of his life ahead of him and in the next a slave who’s only prospect is a life of drudgery.
In Egypt Joseph is bought by a man named Potiphar. Years have passed since Joseph has been sold into slavery and he has worked his way into a position of responsibility as head of Potiphar’s household. In the course of time, Potiphar’s wife decides that she wants a sexual relationship with Joseph and begin to pursue him. Ultimately the matter comes to a head one day when she grabbed Joseph and demanded that he sleep with her. When Joseph refuses her and flees from her presence leaving his cloak in her hand she became angry. She decided to protect herself should this get to her husband and at the same time get revenge on Joseph. She began to scream, she screamed that Joseph had assaulted her, after all she had his cloak in her hand. When her husband learned of this, he became angry and had Joseph thrown into prison.
It would have been easy at this point to give in to despair. Joseph was unjustly imprisoned, in fact imprisoned for doing the right thing. The disciples of Jesus must have felt a similar kind of despair when he was crucified. They had given three and half years to following this man whom they believed to be the Messiah. They had watched him heal the sick and heard him preach marvelous things about the kingdom of God. And just when it seemed that the world might recognize him as the King, everything had seemed to go wrong. He was arrested, convicted in a mock trial and crucified. Yet Easter is a celebration that the grave could not hold him and that on the third day he arose. Easter is all about hope and this morning I want us to look at the story of Joseph to see the principles of why we should not give into disappointment.
You may be saying, but I am not in prison. Are you so sure? Prison comes in different forms for different people. We can be imprisoned by our circumstances, trapped in situations that we are powerless to change. You can be imprisoned by the expectations of others. You may be imprisoned by guilt. Many of us are walking around with a load of guilt, from things that may have happened years before. Others may have forgiven us but we have not forgiven ourselves. Regardless of what “prison experience” we may find ourselves facing, Joseph can provide us with insights for coping.
One of the things that we must keep in mind as we examine Joseph’s life is that God is not as much interested in our circumstances as he is of our response to our circumstances. This morning we want to see how Joseph handles the “pits” of his life, his ability to live in undeserved and unpleasant circumstances with faith, hope and love. And what enabled him to live through these circumstances proved to be the means by which God brought about his release and rise in power to the second highest office in the land.
First, Joseph Knew that God Had Not and Would Not Forsake Him. (Genesis 39:20-23)
“Then Joseph’s master took him and put him into the prison, a place where the king’s prisoners were confined. And he was there in the prison. (21) But the LORD was with Joseph and showed him mercy, and He gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison. (22) And the keeper of the prison committed to Joseph’s hand all the prisoners who were in the prison; whatever they did there, it was his doing. (23) The keeper of the prison did not look into anything that was under Joseph’s authority, because the LORD was with him; and whatever he did, the LORD made it prosper.” (NKJV) Now that Joseph is in prison we learn that although Joseph did not deserve to be in prison he responded to it beautifully. What is important was the way in which his character grew during his imprisonment. In similar circumstances another man might have become harsh, bitter or withdrawn. Not Joseph. Prison actually strengthened Joseph’s character.