But God: Joseph

You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. (emphasis added)

Genesis 50:20

Joseph, a man who began his life privileged and honored by his father but hated by his brothers is nearing the end of his life when we read this verse.

If you know anything about the life of Joseph it had its ups and downs, to say the least. He began it loved and hated. Sold into slavery then grew into riches. Accused of rape and later honored among royalty. 

The ups and downs of life can leave us feeling rocky at best. 

So, where do we go? What do we do and who do we turn to when it seems that God may have left us stranded in a pit, in a prison cell or in the middle of a false accusation?

But God

I wanted to give you 3 things to do so that at the end of the struggle… (because it will come)… that you can stand confidently and say: “But God meant it for good.”

When Joseph was in the pit, the Bible says in Genesis 37:36:

Meanwhile the Midianites had sold him in Egypt to Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, the captain of the guard.

The Bible writes it simply “Joseph was taken to Egypt.” Think about his fear and his rejection he must have been struggling with. The Bible isn’t exactly clear about what Joseph was feeling at the moment, but we do know where he ended up. And no matter what feelings Joseph had, we know that his next steps were ordained by a sovereign God who loved him. 

Often in our moments of most uncertainty, we, like Joseph, must have a past relationship with the creator of our souls. There is something different that takes place in the dark when you’ve walked with God in the light. 

Joseph has had times with his creator through dreams. He knows the God of his past is also the God of his future. So, we watch Joseph’s character be molded, twisted and formed into the man God wants him to be for the position he has for him. 

change your situation

So, step 1: In order to trust the faithful God of your past circumstances, realize He is the same God of your future. He may just be molding or shaping you.

Next we see in Genesis 39:1-3

Now Joseph had been brought down to Egypt, and Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, the captain of the guard, an Egyptian, had bought him from the Ishmaelites who had brought him down there. The LORD was with Joseph, and he became a successful man, and 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 succeed in his hands. 

Here we see the next “but God” situation in Joseph’s life. He’s been taken to Egypt. The place where eventually God will lead his people out of this country and into the Promised Land. 

But Joseph has steps to take.

Could Joseph know a famine would happen?

How could Joseph possibly know that his family that sold him into slavery would show up on his front door step needing what God had provided himself?

It’s not possible that he knew. And it’s not possible that you can know either. 

But it is possible that if you’ve had the past relationship with God himself then you too can know that “The Lord is with you” (v3) like he was with Joseph. 

When The Lord is with you, those around you know it. You act differently. You worry less. Your joy is evident. And what you do as you work for the Lord succeeds. 

Your step 2 in identifying the “But God” situation in your life is to work heartily even when if it looks and feels like a prison or a pit. God has plans. 

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men,

Colossians 3:23

Next in the storyline, Joseph is honored among his peers and among loyalty. But with this status came another woman’s desire to be with him. A woman who was not his own.

But hang with me here, Joseph does not give in to this prowess, and instead he gets falsely accused. 

Check it out here. We have TWO “but…” situations that happen.

But one day, when he went into the house to do his work and none of the men of the house was there in the house

Genesis 39:11

Do you feel the injustice? Joseph wasn’t meant to be charged wrongly here. He wasn’t meant to be forced into prison for doing good work. Sometimes, it seems as if man meant it for evil in these “but” situations though. 

Have you ever asked that? “But why did this happen?”

Check out our next “but” situation. 10 verses later we see:

But the LORD was with Joseph and showed him steadfast love and gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison

Genesis 39:21

A sudden change of events? Not really. Joseph is still in prison. But look at what God does. 

He does not rescue Joseph from the pain of the prison, but in the prison he shows him his steadfast love. 

Are you in a current struggle that makes you feel as if you aren’t “meant” to be where you are in life right now?

From pit to false accusations to prison, Joseph’s life was one of total ups and downs, but in the midst of it all:

Joseph had God’s steadfast love on him and favor in the sight of all those who worked with him. 

Step 3 would be to stop looking to humans to help you with your struggles. God’s got this. 

Joseph couldn’t rely on his father to save him from the pit. He couldn’t trust his brothers to protect him from slavery. Joseph also could not trust his leadership to believe he was innocent. The lack of trust in human protection and provision in Joseph’s life was on going. “But God” has my needs taken care of, even from a pit, from pretense, or even from prison. 

Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation.

Psalm 146:3

Your close friendships may bring wise council, your family may encourage you for a time… but ultimately they aren’t the ones that will bring about your protection and provision. 

When we learn to trust God for provision and protection, we are able to extend grace, forgiveness and provision to others. In the world’s eyes Joseph would have had every right to kick his brothers out of town and continue living in wealth. But Joseph understood what God had done for him. 

So do not fear; I will provide for you and your little ones.” Thus he comforted them and spoke kindly to them.

Genesis 50:21

God’s provision, protection and grace allows you to extend that to those who have broken your trust. 

Have you focused more on the “but man” moments in your life or the “but God” moments?

Have you allowed what man has done to you to cause you to respond with less than forgiveness and grace? 

I’d love for us to be a community of women who learn to trust in God’s sovereign hand of provision, protection and grace over our lives so that others can “see our good works and glorify our heavenly father.” Matthew 5:16

If you’d like to journal more about how the “but God” moments in your life can spread into other’s lives, check out my 31 day journal prompts guide here.