Eugene Peterson’s book Eat this Book teaches us to chew on a passage of scripture, digest it, and then put it to use in practical ways. Our early Christian fathers and mothers called this process Lectio Divina. This passage from Genesis describes some life-changing moments in the life of one of Scripture’s most notable men of God: Joseph. They reveal Joseph’s integrity and faith which were undergirded by the knowledge that the Lord was with him.
AND THE LORD WAS WITH HIM
Scripture Passage: Genesis 39 (excerpts)
“Now Joseph was taken down to Egypt, and Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, the captain of the guard, an Egyptian, bought him from the Ishmaelites who had brought him down there. The Lord was with Joseph, and he became a successful man; he was in the house of his Egyptian master.
His master saw that the Lord was with him, and that the Lord caused all that he did to prosper in his hands. So Joseph found favor in his sight and attended him; he made him overseer of his house and put him in charge of all that he had.
Now Joseph was handsome and good-looking. 7 And after a time his master’s wife cast her eyes on Joseph and said, “Lie with me.” 8 But he refused . . . And although she spoke to Joseph day after day, he would not consent to lie beside her or to be with her. One day, however, when he went into the house to do his work, and while no one else was in the house, she caught hold of his garment, saying, “Lie with me!” But he left his garment in her hand, and fled and ran outside.
When she saw that he had left his garment in her hand and had fled outside, she called out to the members of her household and said to them, “See, my husband] has brought among us a Hebrew to insult us! He came in to me to lie with me, and I cried out with a loud voice; and when he heard me raise my voice and cry out, he left his garment beside me, and fled outside.” Then she kept his garment by her until his master came home, 7 and she told him the same story. . . . And Joseph’s master took him and put him into the prison, the place where the king’s prisoners were confined; he remained there in prison. But the Lord was with Joseph and showed him steadfast love; he gave him favor in the sight of the chief jailer.
The chief jailer committed to Joseph’s care all the prisoners who were in the prison, and whatever was done there, he was the one who did it. The chief jailer paid no heed to anything that was in Joseph’s care, because the Lord was with him; and whatever he did, the Lord made it prosper.”
The Spiritual Formation Bible says this about Joseph: “Joseph stands as a shining example of the Immanuel Principle – ‘God with us’ – lived out in bewildering circumstances and real-life hardship. As a common thread weaving his story together, the Bible repeats, ‘The Lord was with Joseph’ (Gen. 38:2). At each new turned we’re reminded that no trial befell him and no good occurred without God’s intimate presence and involvement. Joseph walked with God, because he knew God walked with him.”
Here are some soul-training exercises based on the life of Joseph
♥ Memorize this statement made by Joseph (Gen. 50:20): “Even though you intended to do harm to me, God intended it for good” (Gen. 50:20).
♥ Search your memory for times when you were in “bewildering circumstances and real-life hardship.” Write in your journal or tell a friend or your children or grandchildren about how God was with you in those times.
♥ Do you know someone going through “bewildering circumstances and real-life hardship.” What is God calling you to do to ease their journey? Perhaps you can tell them your story or Joseph’s story.
♥ The soul-training exercise that Joseph practiced throughout his life was submission. Read his story in Genesis 37-50 and note the many times he chose to submit to life’s circumstances without complaint or bitterness. This week practice submission. When things don’t go well, practice the spirit of Joseph (and Jesus) and pray for grace under fire and a forgiving spirit.
MORE FOOD FOR THOUGHT
“The Christian life is presented by Christ not as the sentimental belief in natural goodness, but as a hard and dangerous road, which involves both severe temptations and continual dangers. It may be necessary to endure sacrifices in order to avoid fatal temptations. Though the love of God is always available . . . life, especially for the Christian, is not one of easy choices, but often a school of struggle, in which some things have to be given up if others are to be obtained” (D. Elton Trueblood in Confronting Christ).
*image of ten Boom quote from pinterest.com