The Dark Before the Dawn

Genesis 37:28 “Then there passed by Midianites merchantmen; and they drew and lifted up Joseph out of the pit, and sold Joseph to the Ishmeelites for twenty pieces of silver: and they brought Joseph into Egypt.”

Joseph dreamed a dream. He didn’t conjure up what he saw, nor did he lie to spite his father or his brothers. He shared what God had foretold would happen in the dream that, to him, was a real as the family that stood before him that day.

He didn’t quite get the response he had hoped for. Skepticism, anger and jealousy were seeds sown in the hearts of his family that day. His father was skeptical; his brothers angry and jealous. As he went out in obedience to his father’s wishes, his brothers conspired to kill him. And so began the trial of Joseph that to us revealed the character of a great man.

Joseph is one of the few men in the Bible that when you look at his life, he was truly upright in all that was recorded of him. He spoke truth. He lived honestly and upright. He chose the right path of justice, judgment and character – and God blessed him for it.

I find it very comforting to know that my life and all that I face is portrayed in the lives of those we read of in the Word of God. Whether it be joy or sorrow, pain or heartache, success or failure; I can find someone whose life resembles my own.

Abraham, known as God’s friend, lied to seemingly protect himself from men who would have possibly killed him and taken his wife. David; a man after God’s own heart, committed adultery and murdered a man to cover his sin. As a father he neglected his son and Absalom rose up against him.

The Word of God is true – we are all sinners. Just as true is that there is nothing that we will face in this life that hasn’t been experienced on some level by someone else.

1 Corinthians 10:13 “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.”

But when you and I find ourselves in a valley; sometimes dark, alone and more often weak and in the flesh, we feel that no one has ever had it quite like we do at this very moment. Friends come and try to comfort quoting Romans 8:28 thinking it is going to be such a comfort and will ease our burden.

Romans 8:28 “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”

But in my more lucid moments, I meditate on Joseph’s life and think just how dark his valley was to him. Rejected and sold into slavery by his own brothers. As a slave he rises to prominence in his position and finds some level of success. Then, his boss’s wife conspires to commit adultery with him and then falsely accuses him. Thrown in jail, he once again rises up in a bad situation to oversee all the inmates under the jailer’s supervision.

At every mountain, Joseph continued to climb. At every setback, he sought God’s help and guidance. He held to the dream as God’s light as if to say – this will all work out for good – just keep going. Joseph was a humble man of faith that didn’t make rash and impatient judgements.

When he rose to power in Pharaoh’s household and held the position of second in command of the greatest nation at that time; the power didn’t go to his head and he didn’t abuse what God had given him for good. So, when his brothers came to him during the famine, thoughts of vengeance didn’t come to fruition.

Joseph saw things on a greater scale than most everyone else in his day. He saw God as sovereign. He saw himself as just a piece to a far greater puzzle and realized his place and position was as significant – even if everyone else was against him.

I know people today who have lost ones so very dear to them. So dear; so close in fact, it felt as if their heart were ripped from their chest and their life has literally lost all meaning. Yet, they continue on today in their faith that God; in His infinite wisdom, will work all things out for good.

I know others who have heard the doctor say, “You have cancer.” Some would sink into depression thinking life is over. Yet, they pressed on and now are cancer free and in remission. Some have suffered financial setbacks. Others have such health issues that are life-changing and crippling.

Still others have been placed in situations to care for loved ones; putting their lives on hold to care for their parents or a child born not normal by the world’s standards. Some face a life that has suffered such violence done to them. Some so heinous and so cruel that it would beg us to take up the banner of vengeance against their abuser.

Whatever valley you and I face, we can agree; yes, it is dark. We can listen to the voices of doom and gloom that press on our spirit; that suck the very life and hope from our breast. We can give in or give up and let situation and circumstance just ‘happen’ to us.

Or, we can go to God and find what is to be our next step. Often, in our frustration, we cry out “Why?!” After the long silence, we can feel as if God doesn’t care or didn’t hear. As a child of God, we must go to the Word of God to find just what it is He has for us. Yes, Romans 8:28 can bring out the cynical side to think, “What good is going to come of this?!”

But it can also allow hope to rise up and grab hold of our faith and say, “We will believe; we will press on, and pursue. By God’s Word and with His help, we will survive.” I cannot tell you just when it will happen or why these things have come upon you. But what I do know is that no matter what, it WILL work out for good.

God said it and that makes it so. No, it doesn’t look very good nor does it feel very good. I am sure the cross didn’t look or feel very good to our Savior that night in the garden when they took Him. It didn’t feel very good when the cat-o-nine tails sunk into his back for the thirty ninth time. Or when the hood was placed over His head and they struck blows with a rod and taunted Him as to who it was that hit Him.

I am sure it didn’t feel very good when He was stripped naked and laid on a rugged, wooden cross. I am sure it didn’t feel very good when the hammer struck the nails to pierce through His wrists and feet to hold Him to that cross that day or when the cross was raised and dropped into the hole to lift Him high above the crowd to die.

I am sure it didn’t feel very good when the weight of your sin and mine was placed upon Him – from Adam’s first sin to the very last of all time… I know what guilt and shame I feel over my own sin – I cannot imagine what it must have felt to bear all the world’s sin. Then, to have His Father turn His back on Him. Never before had Jesus ever been apart from His Heavenly Father – until that day when He did it for you and for me.

Never was a valley so dark. Never did things look so bleak, dismal and depressing. Yet…

Hebrews 12:2 “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

So, when you and I face that valley – and we will; know that we are in good company. Joseph had to finish his race. Jesus is the author and finisher of our faith. May our prayer be when we face that valley -“Father, help me to finish well.”

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