Joseph was imprisoned after being falsely accused by Potiphar’s wife. This circumstance was not Joseph’s choice, but it was something that happened to him. Even so, it was an incredible time of personal development for him. Joseph discovered again that God does not always reveal Himself by quickly changing situations but often uses situations to change us.
“But the Lord was with Joseph and showed him mercy, and He gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison. And the keeper of the prison committed to Joseph’s hand all the prisoners who were in the prison; whatever they did there, it was his doing. The keeper of the prison did not look into anything that was under Joseph’s authority, because the Lord was with him; and whatever he did, the Lord made it prosper” (Genesis 39:21-23).
We can expect Joseph’s experience to be our experience in the New Covenant:
The Lord was with Joseph – Besides believing we are loved and righteous in Christ, the belief that the Lord is with us one of most important beliefs to have.
God showed him mercy – Because in God’s mercy Jesus took every negative consequence of our sin on the cross, we can be blessed and protected.
God gave Joseph favor with the keeper of the prison – God will cause the right people to like us
Because the Lord was with him; and whatever he did, the Lord made it prosper — We are to expect success in life. This expectation will increase the likelihood of us experiencing it.
As we consider Joseph in prison, we see he was dedicated in serving, giving, leading, and interpreting dreams. He did not let circumstances stop him from being who he was. As a matter of fact, he strengthened himself in tough times.
If Joseph would not have thrived in prison, he would have never been invited into the palace. If he would have said, “Baker and Butler” (whom he interpreted dreams for), “I am not going to help you out. I have my own problems. Get out of here!”, he would have missed his promotion. Like Joseph when we are dedicated in our “prison” circumstances, we set ourselves up for favor and promotion.
We don’t need to be in a literal prison to have “prison” circumstances. All of us, to some degree, have circumstances outside of our control that are seemingly putting restrictions on what we can do and experience. It might be:
A home life that is tough
A job you believe is beneath you
A ministry situation where you feel under-utilized and under-valued
A very tight financial season
A situation where important people seem to have a negative view of you
When we are in these kinds of “prisons”, we cannot look to people to be our source for encouragement, to open doors for us, or to fight out battles for us. Yes, we appreciate the help people can bring, but we, like Joseph, must first get victorious in our beliefs before getting victory in our circumstances. And one of the greatest beliefs is that God is really with us in our prison situations.
You are a modern day Joseph. God is with you. He has mercy on you. He is giving you favor with the right people. Whatever you do, God will make it prosper. This is because you are the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:21).
There is increased grace being released over you right now for you to thrive in any “prison” circumstance you are in, and it is leading somewhere bigger than you know.
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Steve Backlund was a senior pastor for seventeen years before joining the team at Bethel Church in Redding, CA in 2008. Steve is a leader developer, joy activist, a revivalist teacher, and as Senior Associate Director, is a key part of the Global Legacy (a ministry of Bethel Church) leadership team. He travels extensively throughout the world encouraging churches and leaders and has authored a number of books.