Summary: Life is a jungle and you’re up to your throat in quicksand...Before we can get on solid ground, we need to face the things that are pulling us under.
Survivor – reality T.V. show. Contestants are dropped in a jungle zone where two teams compete for money and prizes. Teams vote on the performance of other tribe members and through the process eliminates other contestants. It finally comes down to one person who wins the prize and stakes claim to being the Sole Survivor.
Life is not as kind. Broken friendships, broken marriages, broken dreams, broken-down car; new schools, new jobs, no jobs; starting over, no where to start to pick up the pieces; abused, ostracized, isolated, lonely, desperate; tired. While I’m trying to encourage you to be aware of God here, now, your life might be in a tail-spin as you head for a crash of one sort or another.
Life is a jungle and you’re up to your throat in quicksand and would gladly grab a stick of hope but can’t seem to find one.
Let me offer you a stick. Grab hold of it and in the next few minutes, let’s get out of the mud together.
Before we can get on solid ground, we need to face the things that are pulling us under. While specifics are different, the outcomes generally have the same effect.
Looking to our role model, we consider a young man named Joseph and see him faced with
1. Wrecked relationships
a. Joseph was ostracized (Genesis 29:15-28)
- Jacob worked seven years for his uncle, to marry his cousin Rachel.
- Uncle Laban tricked Jacob and gave him his first-born daughter, Leah.
- Jacob worked another seven years and finally got Rachel but now had two wives, one he loved and the other he put up with.
- Rachel’s two sons by Jacob were yours truly, Joseph and his brother, Benjamin
- Joseph was favored by his father more than his half brothers born to his step-mother, Leah. His brothers hated him for it (Genesis 37:4)
There is nothing more exhausting and upsetting that creates anxiety and pain than ruptured relationships. The relationships that are most strained and damaged are those right at home – spouses, children and extended families, obviously so because these are the people closest to us. The only variation on this theme is the extent of the damage of the relationships. While some families only squabble about small stuff, kiss and make up, others are not even talking to each other or if they do speak it’s to inflict more pain and completely strip you of your value and self-worth.
Joseph has some answers for you in a moment. For now, hold on to the stick.
b. Joseph was isolated (Genesis 37:1-9)
- Joseph often reported his half-brothers’ questionable business practices to their father Jacob. That certainly made him popular at the Well during coffee break.
- He had strange dreams that painted him as superior to his half-brothers. They would one day bow to him and he’d be calling the shots
- Integrity and truth isolates.
If many people here open their deepest self, we would likely see a lot of loneliness, aloneness and isolation.
Church Board meeting – conversation about our desperate need for small groups because so many people feel disconnected. One person’s eyes were brimming and would break with tears as she said, “I don’t have a connection here.” She represents many people who are just like her.
Joseph knows how you feel. He’s written the book on it!
c. Joseph was mistreated (Genesis 37:12-36)
- Jacob sent Joseph to Shechem to check in on his brothers who were tending their father’s flock of sheep. (Genesis 37:13)
- The brothers’ schemes went from deciding against killing him to selling him as a slave to a traveling caravan and finally lying about it as they took Joseph’s coat that was a gift from his father, dipped it in lamb’s blood and conjured up a story that wild animals killed and ate him. (How cruel, to not only lie that he was dead but to dream up a story that would tear the heart out of their old dad)
We could write a book on the stories in our church of school bullying, the person overlooked for a promotion because the boss “had a favorite” or another being hired for a new job and then laid off weeks later; people who for the first time in their lives don’t have enough resources to feed the families and paid their bills. “It’s just not fair.” You’re absolutely right it isn’t fair. Joseph wrote the book on that too. He’ll speak to it in a moment.
Joseph was not only a recipient of wrecked relationships but was well acquainted with
2. Social Injustice
Joseph’s first job as a slave was to attend to the property affairs for a man named Potiphar, Captain of the King’s guards. His bosses’ wife accused him of trying to rape her (all because he wouldn’t have anything to do with her), Potiphar threw him in prison, and Joseph spent 13 years in jail for a crime he didn’t commit. Genesis 39 has the whole story.