Summary: We need to have faith by believing that the Lord is with us when we don’t see or feel His presence.
The Lord Was With Him
(Gen. 39:19-23; Acts 16:19-28)
Did you hear the title of the sermon this morning in the last verse I just read:
“….the keeper of the prison paid no heed to anything that was in Joseph’s care because the Lord was with him…"
That’s the same statement that leads off two of the power, memory verses we have learned: Zeph. 3: 17= The Lord your God is with you..; and again this morning as we said
Is. 41:10= Fear not, for I am with you….
Do you think Joseph believed that? Consider his situation. Joseph is in his mid-twenties, probably around 25 years old; he has been sold into slavery by his brothers, but
has been able to work his way up into a good job as head servant of a leading official in Egypt only to have that official’s wife try on numerous occasions to unsuccessfully seduce him until in her anger at his rejections she falsely accuses him and now he has been unjustly sent to prison for we don’t know how long most likely 5-10 years. Prisons in those days were dungeons, complete with bad food, bad companions, and bad living conditions. So now we have a young man in the prime of his life, wasting away in a prison for who knows how many years, and the prison warden after watching Joseph for some months has decided that he would make a good overseer of the other prisoners, puts him in charge
of the other prisoners because the text says: the Lord was with Joseph.
You might think that if the Lord was with Joseph the last place he would be is a prisoner in a dungeon and not just for days or weeks but in Joseph’s case for years. I could see Joseph when he first got in maybe doing some extra praying and pleading with God to get him out of there especially since he had not done anything wrong but had done what was right. But as the weeks turn into months and the months turned into years, I wonder if Joseph was saying or thinking what the Psalmist said in Ps.13: “How long, oh Lord, will you forget forever, how long will you hide your face from me? How long must I bear pain in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all the day. How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?....
Maybe we are not in a prison dungeon today, but I could ask myself the same question when I was in the hospital at Cleveland Clinic- not knowing what was wrong with me in those first days, not sleeping, not eating, worried about what lied ahead- do you believe
Parry that the Lord is with you here in this hospital bed at 2:30 in the morning when you can’t sleep and you hurt and the news may be worse tomorrow than today? In a time like that I did not feel the presence of the Lord and my guess is that there were many days and nights in that prison when Joseph did not feel the presence of the Lord.
And you know so often we measure the value and legitimacy of our Christian faith on what we feel. When you ask Christians why they attend worship, the answer most often given is “to recharge my spiritual batteries”; in other words when I get into worship I want to be recharged; I want to be inspired, given hope; I want to feel filled-up or renewed in the
Spirit. In fact, people will say: I could feel or sense the Holy Spirit this morning in worship or I could tell that the preacher really had the Holy Spirit upon him so much so that you may
have wept or felt goose bumps during the message. There is nothing wrong with all of that,
but what I am aiming at this morning is what happens to our faith when we don’t feel the presence of God especially when we are in an unpleasant or unhappy situation?
It doesn’t take much sometimes for us to “get out of joint” as the saying goes. Let the car suddenly break down on the freeway at night or the increasing stress at work builds up to
the breaking point or the family conflicts keep reigniting and getting worse each time
and before you know it, the last thing we are feeling is anything religious let alone the Spirit of God. Now we are not in worship with other Christians in church, now we are alone in the hospital bed, in the prison cell, in the upstairs bedroom at home awake and worried everyone else is sleeping—now
where is this presence of the Lord that is suppose to be with me- too many of those kind of days and nights and what then becomes of our Christian faith?