Last time we left off our story with Joseph as Potiphar’s slave. Potiphar was fascinated by Joseph, especially because he noticed that the Lord was with this particular servant:
“The LORD was with Joseph so that he prospered, and he lived in the house of his Egyptian master. When his master saw that the LORD was with him and that the LORD gave him success in everything he did, Joseph found favor in his eyes and became his attendant. Potiphar put him in charge of his household, and he entrusted to his care everything he owned. From the time he put him in charge of his household and of all that he owned, the LORD blessed the household of the Egyptian because of Joseph. The blessing of the LORD was on everything Potiphar had, both in the house and in the field. So Potiphar left everything he had in Joseph’s care; with Joseph in charge, he did not concern himself with anything except the food he ate.” (Gen 39:2-6 NIV)
Naturally, the evil one will try to complicate things: “Now Joseph was well-built and handsome, and after a while his master’s wife took notice of Joseph and said, ‘Come to bed with me!'” (Gen 39:7 NIV). Joseph was wise. He refused over and over again. After all, he was a child of God! But Potiphar’s wife was persistent…
“One day Joseph went into the house to attend to his duties, and none of the household servants was inside. She caught him by his cloak and said, ‘Come to bed with me!’ But he left his cloak in her hand and ran out of the house. When she saw that he had left his cloak in her hand and had run out of the house, she called her household servants. ‘Look,’ she said to them, ‘this Hebrew has been brought to us to make sport of us! He came in here to sleep with me, but I screamed. When he heard me scream for help, he left his cloak beside me and ran out of the house.” (Gen 39:11-14 NIV)
Who will Potiphar stand by? His wife or his slave? Not wanting to go against his wife, he had Joseph thrown into jail. The beloved and innocent Joseph was now accused of being a common criminal. He had not done anything, but who would believe him? Where was his God? From the depths of prison, Joseph remembered the vision he had received and it gave him hope. Although Isaiah wouldn’t pen these words for many, many years later, this verse fits Joseph’s situation perfectly: “Those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” (Isaiah 40:31 NIV).
Joseph decided to stand firm on God’s promise. He knew something would happen, he just didn’t know when.
Like Joseph, I found myself in a foreign land, and things hadn’t exactly turned out as I had envisioned them. Also like Joseph, I, too, had received a promise. One night while I was sleeping, I had a dream. I was a teenager at the time, and I dreamed of a beautiful girl about four years younger than me. My Heavenly Father told me to pray for her as she was not well, so I did; and I knew in my heart that this girl would play an important role in my life. There is no way that I would ever forget the girl in my dream, and while in the US, when everything seemed to have turned against me, that promise kept me focused on God.
Three years later, I was hired to teach in a college in Washington State, on the west coast of the United States. I received another dream at that time: “You will meet a special person while you teach. She will be from Los Angeles. You will get to know her very well.” Sure enough, at that very first registration (this was back in the day when students actually had to physically attend registration!), with all the other teachers with me in the gymnasium, I saw someone coming towards my table. She wanted to sign up for one of my French classes. When I looked in her eyes, I realized this was the girl I had dreamed of as a young teen. I wasn’t at all surprised to learn that she was from Los Angeles… I never would have thought that I would meet a lovely girl from the States when I received my dream. It was impossible, but not for God: “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ says the Lord. ‘They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.'” (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV)
God always fulfills His promises. He did it for me, and He’ll do it for you. Hold on to them, for they will change your life for the better. Remember that even from the depths of prison, our Heavenly Father can prepare the fulfillment of His promise. We can always trust in our Father! Isn’t this what the Christmas story is all about? God promised to make a way out of sin, and He did. In the fullness of time, He sent His son to this Earth as a tiny baby, to live among us, to show us the way, and eventually to die on a cross for our sin so that we could be reconciled with God. God keeps ALL His promises!
(To access the entire “Hope in the Distance” devotional series, please click here.)