If there was someone that had a right to be bitter, it was Joseph. His biggest crime was that he had a loud mouth. And for that “crime” he was thrown into a cistern and left there for a few hours, and then he was shipped off to Egypt to be a slave.
Now he’s in a foreign country, doesn’t know the language, and is forced to serve people he doesn’t know. It would’ve been so easy in his situation to become bitter. To rage at God saying, “This isn’t fair! I don’t deserve this! How could you do this to me?” But he didn’t. Instead he served both God and his new master faithfully, and because he did so, God blessed not only him, but his new master as well.
But then trouble comes. His master’s beautiful wife becomes attracted to him and tries to get him into her bed. Again, it would’ve been so easy for Joseph to say, “Well, I’m far away from my home. Nobody here really knows God. My father and my brothers will never know what I’m doing. Why not have a little fun?” But instead, Joseph refused, saying, “How could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?” And despite the fact that day after day, this beautiful woman kept chasing after him, he refused to give into temptation.
But the day comes when she manages to corner him while no one else is in the house, and this time she is very insistent, grabbing him by the cloak and saying, “Come to bed with me! Nobody’s here! I arranged everything. Nobody will ever know we’ve been sleeping together.” And again, it would’ve been so easy for Joseph to just give in and say, “Okay, I’ll do it. Just this once, I’ll do it. She is beautiful after all. And no one will ever know. I deserve a little fun after all I’ve been through.” But instead, Joseph turned and ran. Unfortunately, however, his cloak is left in her hand, and she gets so angry at being rejected once again, that she tells everyone that Joseph tried to rape her. And so once again, through no fault of his own, Joseph gets in trouble and is thrown in prison.
How would you have felt? I would’ve been pretty bitter. Here I am, trying to do the right thing, trying to doing things God’s way, and now look what’s happened! But Joseph refused to let bitterness linger in his heart. Instead, he remained faithful to God. And as a result, God blessed him even while he was in prison.
The key phrase through this whole passage is this, “The Lord was with Joseph.” God didn’t prevent problems from coming into Joseph’s life. He didn’t promise Joseph that by doing things His way, everything would go smoothly. But through it all, God was there. And because Joseph was always aware of God’s presence in his life, he remained faithful to Him no matter the circumstances.
How about you? Are you bitter about the circumstances you’re in? Perhaps you’re in trouble through your own mistakes. Maybe you’re in trouble despite the fact that you always tried to do things God’s way. Stay faithful. Don’t let bitterness control you. Stay faithful. And whatever you’re going through, God will bring you through the fire. God never promises that your life will always be perfect. God never promises that bad things will never happen to you. What he does promise, is that through everything you go through, he’ll be with you every step of the way.
God, there are times in my life when I don’t understand why things are happening to me. I try to do the right thing, but sometimes even then, things go wrong. But never let me get bitter. Never let me get angry at you. Instead, let me know your presence in my life. Let me know that you’re there. Help me to be like Joseph, faithful to you no matter the circumstances. In Jesus name, amen.