One little expression in the story of Joseph in Genesis tells us all we need to know about him — and the one thing we need most in our lives today too:
After Chapter 39 opens by describing how Joseph had been taken down to Egypt as a slave, it says in :2, “The LORD was with Joseph …”. Tellingly, this phrase is used repeatedly in this chapter:
— When Joseph is later thrown into prison, :21 adds: “But the LORD was with Joseph, and extended kindness to him ….”.
— And then :23 relates that as Joseph supervised the prisoners, “the LORD was with him, and whatever he did, the LORD made to prosper.”
Three times in this one chapter the Bible says “the LORD (YHWH) was with” Joseph. He was NOT in “ideal circumstances” at all: sold into slavery, unjustly thrown into prison — but wherever he went, he prospered in every way, because “the LORD was with him.”
Which serves to remind us that the most important thing about us is not our circumstances, but that the Lord is with us. When we know that He is with us, then no matter where we are, or what “happens” to us, like Joseph He make us fruitful even in the darkest prison, or use our most dire circumstances to fulfill His purposes.
Genesis later tells us that when Jacob met Joseph just before his death, he told his son: “Behold, I am about to die, BUT GOD WILL BE WITH YOU, and bring you back to the land of your fathers.” (Genesis 48:21) Jacob had every confidence that the same God had been “with” his son Joseph his life, protecting, directing, and blessing according to His eternal plan, would be with him at the end too.
And through Christ, we can have that same confidence today. He said, “I am WITH YOU always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20) Those of us who belong to Him need to realize that the overriding factor in our lives is His promise, and His real presence, not our circumstances. The question is, do you have this confidence? Can it be said of you, like it was of Joseph, that “the Lord was with him”?