And Joseph’s master took him and put him into the prison, the place where the king’s prisoners were confined, and he was there in prison. But the LORD was with Joseph and showed him steadfast love and gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison. And the keeper of the prison put Joseph in charge of all the prisoners who were in the prison. Whatever was done there, he was the one who did it. The keeper of the prison paid no attention to anything that was in Joseph’s charge, because the LORD was with him. And whatever he did, the LORD made it succeed. (Genesis 39:20-23 ESV)
Joseph’s dreams have faded but his God hasn’t. Who would have thought that the road to God’s plan for His life would lead through a prison. But the LORD was with Joseph. Though Joseph didn’t have his dreams, He had God’s presence. Though Joseph was unfairly imprisoned, he was unconditionally loved. Though Joseph suffered unjustly, he worshiped unhindered. God showed him steadfast love and gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison. God went to prison with Joseph.
Quick question: If you had a choice of your plan without God’s presence or God’s presence without your plan, which would you choose? We’re quick to answer, “God’s plan, of course!” And when the rubber meets the road we question God’s timing, God’s involvement, God’s presence. We act as if God doesn’t know what He’s doing or why our lives are going the way they are.
God went to prison with Joseph. It is a helpful reminder that God went through your divorce with you. God endured the death of your loved one with you. God sat through chemotherapy with you. God was at the kitchen table when you sat there, heard your son scream profanities, and walk out.
And whatever he did, the LORD made it succeed. God was Joseph’s success.
Moses experienced this too. Israel had camped at Sinai and the time had come to leave. God instructed Moses to lead them to the Promised Land. Moses wanted to know who God was going to send with him. God’s answer to Moses may catch you by surprise:
And he said, “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” And he said to him, “If your presence will not go with me, do not bring us up from here. For how shall it be known that I have found favor in your sight, I and your people? Is it not in your going with us, so that we are distinct, I and your people, from every other people on the face of the earth?” (Exodus 33:14-16 ESV)
Moses didn’t want to leave unless God’s presence went with them. He’d rather stay in Sinai with God than live in the Promised Land without him! Why? Moses answers that question: Is it not in your going with us that makes us distinct?” What distinguished Israel was not their “Israelitishness.” What distinguished Israel was God’s presence.
And what makes you “you” is God’s presence.
God waits with you.