Perhaps as the pandemic and ensuing quarantine have altered your life, you are currently battling hopelessness. Or maybe you had already reached that sad state before the world came to a screeching halt. I pray you find renewed strength from the biblical life-story of Joseph just as I did this past winter when a new detail stood out to me.
Joseph was hated by his brothers so much that they sold him into slavery. Next, lies and false accusations condemned this faithful and moral slave in a foreign land to jail. Nevertheless, as emotional pain continued to mount, Joseph continued to think of others. He noticed two sad prisoners, listened to their concerns, and interpreted their dreams. Then notice what he says:
“Only keep me in mind when it goes well with you, and please do me a kindness by mentioning me to Pharaoh and get me out of this house. For I was in fact kidnapped from the land of the Hebrews, and even here I have done nothing that they should have put me into the dungeon.”Genesis 40:14-15
Do you hear the pain flowing from his heart? Do you hear the earnestness of his pleas as he sees a chance to finally escape the horrible, unjust circumstances he is enduring?
And now for the detail that I had never noticed before in my countless readings of Joseph:
Yet the chief cupbearer did not remember Joseph, but forgot him.
Now it happened at the end of two full years that Pharaoh had a dream.Genesis 40:23-41:1
Two full years… 24 months, 730 days, 17,520 hours, 1,051,200 minutes ...forgotten.
At that point, what hope did Joseph have of ever leaving prison? Why didn’t he throw in the towel? Why didn’t he commit suicide?
Simple. He had faith.
Joseph had faith in a God that still sees when all the world forgets. Joseph had faith that though man meant evil against him, God meant everything that happened to him for good. Joseph had faith that though his brothers had sold him into Egypt, it was actually God who had sent him there. Joseph’s faith gave him hope and endurance those final 730 days in the hopeless dungeon.
Had Joseph given up at that incredibly low point in his life-story, who would have interpreted Pharaoh’s dreams? Who would have gathered during the years of plenty to provide during the years of famine? Who would have protected Jacob’s family and the Messianic line? What is the cost when we lose hope and give up?
When we are at our lowest and the world seems completely hopeless, I urge us to remember Joseph in those final 24 months before he was literally transformed in hours from a forgotten prisoner in a dungeon to second in authority of a mighty, powerful nation.
Right now we are all in a low moment in a sense with this pandemic. We don’t know what good God is orchestrating in our life and those around us. But we have a very clear responsibility: keep having faith.
God allows pain into our lives. Sometimes excruciating pain. But we must never lose hope. We must look to Scripture and find hope, strength, comfort, and encouragement. Joseph didn’t give up in the two long years of being forgotten and we must not give up either no matter what we are facing.
When enduring suffering or watching others suffer, I find this passage comforting:
For if He causes grief,
Then He will have compassion
According to His abundant lovingkindness.
For He does not afflict willinglyLamentations 3:32-33
Or grieve the sons of men.
I don’t know what you are enduring today, but I do know that God is good and is not willingly afflicting you. I pray that whatever hardship you are facing at this moment, you will trust God, call out to Him, and find faith and hope in your darkness. Keep having faith! Always.