Today's reading was familiar since a large part of it reinforced those Sunday school lessons taught through the years and growing up in church. It was nice to read the scriptures that told the stories of some of my favorite Bible "characters". Though it was familiar, I made sure to read it word for word and not "skip" over any parts. I'm glad I didn't because a certain passage of scripture came to life for me in a new way and I'm certain I would have missed it if I weren't really paying attention.
The story was about Joseph. I've taught the story of Joseph and his coat of many colors so many times or I've read the kids a book about it countless times. Craft after craft has been made to depict his colorful coat. I already know how the story turns out. I know that his interpretation of dreams comes true. I know about his time in prison after being wrongfully accused of inappropriate relations with Potiphar's wife. I know about the forgiveness he shows his brothers and how their family is restored.
It was the portion of reading about Joseph in prison that really caught my attention and spoke to my heart. Joseph KNEW he was destined for great things. Joseph had ALREADY spent a life of heartache and betrayal. His jealous brothers plotted to kill him, but instead sold him into slavery. They told his father he was dead. To say his life has been harsh is an understatement. He was "more" than innocent in the accusations against him by Potiphar's wife. He purposely rejected her advances and attempted to be above reproach. He was an honorable man. However, instead of being rewarded for that honor, he found himself in prison.
His scars had to run deep. He had to have asked God, "why?". Surely, he didn't understand why he of all people was facing the battles before him. He turned his back on God and God left him alone, right? WRONG!
Vs. 21 of Chapter 39 says "But the LORD was with Joseph in the prison and showed him his faithful love." FAITHFUL love! Even in those darkest moments, God was with him. Joseph's heart was still open despite his heartache. God never left him. EVEN when our situations seem bleak, God is with us. The second half of verse 23 says: "The LORD was with him and caused everything he did to succeed."
I'm so thankful I didn't miss those verses this morning. They've brought such comfort and encouragement. Right now, no matter what is going on....God is with me. Even through the times that have caused the scars to run deep, God is with me and His faithful love never fails. Though I may feel abandoned, betrayed, or hopeless....GOD IS WITH ME! He never leaves us. No matter how alone we may feel, we are truly never alone. Even trapped in the cells of prison (even the figurative ones we find ourselves in), God is with us and still at work. He may not immediately release us (we know that he didn't rescue Joseph immediately either), but yet He is still at work. Even in our darkest times when we can't even begin to find the purpose for what we are going through, God is at work in us and for us. Today's heartaches TRULY may be the stepping stones of tomorrow's blessings. When we don't have understanding of why we are facing situations, we CAN cling to the promise that God is faithful and He is with us. We are limited in what our own eyes and heart can see, but He is omniscient. Today's stumbling blocks may just be the stepping stones that put us directly on the path that He has planned for us all along. The pain that seems completely without purpose, may just be shaping our hearts and preparing us for our true calling.
Joseph remained faithful to God. I think about the times I've dealt with harsh circumstances and think about how my own faith has taken dings. Did I completely without hesitation put my trust in God? Unfortunately, I can't always answer yes. Fortunately, His mercy and grace held me right in His arms until my heart was ready to accept the fact that He was there all along. His faithful love never fails and He is always with us.
So very thankful I took the time to slow down this morning and not zip through the reading to just get it checked off the list for today. So thankful that I decided to not just mentor this session, but that I also wanted to read along. If my heart is already being touched so profoundly these first 3 days, I can't do anything but look ahead to the next 87 days with anticipation and excitement.