How does a man keep from growing bitter after being sold by his brothers into slavery, falsely accused of raping another man’s wife, and thrown in jail for a crime he didn’t commit? Humanly speaking, I have no idea. I have a hard enough time not being bitter when someone takes my parking spot. Or when one of my kids throws up the night before Thanksgiving and my entire strawberry pretzel salad, homemade yeast roll, and apple pie universe shrivels into nothingness and I want to scream at them for getting sick. (Just keepin’ it real.)
Devotional Scripture: Genesis 41:1-36
Key Verse: “Great peace have those who love your law; nothing can make them stumble.” Psalm 119:165
But I can’t even fathom my family turning on me. Selling me. Utterly rejecting me. How do you not let bitterness weave it’s tangled web? In reality, there’s really only one way. And it’s going to sound so cliche. So 9am Sunday schoolish you’re gonna fight the need to give me a pep talk. (Come on Stacey you can do better than that.)
But it’s the truth. How does one keep from losing it in this crazy upside down so incredibly unfair world? By meditating on the one true God and His word day and night. That’s it. That’s the simple answer to every unfair circumstance, every plight, every struggle, every difficulty we will ever face. God and His Word ever in the forefront of our minds.
“Oh, the joys of those who…delight in the law of the Lord, meditating on it day and night” (Ps. 1:1-2, NLT) Even when others malign or seek to bring us down. “Great peace have those who love your law; nothing can make them stumble” (Ps. 119:165).
Counseling is good, but God’s counsel is better. Listen to what it did for the writer of Psalm 119. “Your testimonies are my delight; they are my counselors” (v. 24). “If your law had not been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction. I will never forget your precepts, for by them you have given me life” (v. 92-93).
The author of Psalm 119 goes on to say, “I rise before dawn and cry for help; I hope in your words. My eyes are awake before the watches of the night, that I may meditate on your promise” (v. 147-148). I wonder if Joseph did just that the morning Pharaoh summoned him. His heart wrapped in God’s perfect peace he began his day with not a clue the cupbearer had just mentioned his name. Until the commotion. The kind that happens when there’s a rush. A rush to accomplish the king’s orders.
Verse 14 says, “They quickly brought him out of the pit.” Did they tell him why? Did they give him a rundown of Pharaoh’s dreams ahead of time or what might be at stake if he couldn’t offer an interpretation? After shaving and changing his clothes, “he came in before Pharaoh. And Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I have had a dream, and there is no one who can interpret it. I have heard it said of you that when you hear a dream you can interpret it” (41:14-15). But Joseph was quick to respond, “It is not in me; God will give Pharaoh a favorable answer.”
Joseph was not about to take the credit. A true servant of God never does. Because they know apart from Christ they can do nothing (Jn. 15:5). But what’s even more incredible is Joseph’s quick willingness to speak of God to a man who believed himself to be a god. Not a wise thing by worldly standards. This was Joseph’s chance. His one opportunity at freedom. Yet he risked it all by speaking the name of Elohim not just once, but five times to the highest ranking man in the world.
Why? Why would he do such a thing? Because when you meditate on God and his word you cannot help but speak his name. “For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks” (Luke 6:45). Joseph listened to Pharaoh explain his dreams and then explained that God was revealing to Pharaoh what he was about to do. Seven abundant years would be followed by seven years of terrible famine. So he best get prepared.
No one but Joseph was able to give Pharaoh understanding. Not even Pharaoh’s wise men. No doubt it was God who gave Joseph understanding but based on Psalm 119:98-99 something else may have been involved. “Your commandment makes me wiser than my enemies…I have more understanding than all my teachers, for your testimonies are my meditation.” God’s word isn’t just a lamp unto our feet but our eyes and ears and minds and hearts.
In fact, it’s our very life (Deut. 32:47). “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4). It’s a powerful weapon my friend. It keeps me calm when I don’t want to be. It points me in the right direction and gives me hope and confidence and instills me with patience.
Do we know for sure that’s how Joseph made it through those long unbearable years? No, but I just don’t see any other way. “You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!” (Is. 26:3, NLT)
So let’s fix our eyes on Jesus. If we love him with our whole hearts and seek His word as though there is no greater treasure in this life, I truly believe we could live the kind of life that Joseph did, even amidst the toughest of circumstances. “Trouble and anguish have found me out, but your commandments are my delight” (Ps. 119:143).
Soak it in sweet friend. Soak in every bit of God’s word. It’s more than just a road map to eternal life, it’s a road map to the most abundant life. Even amidst the most dire of circumstances.
Contemplate and Evaluate:
What level of importance do you place on God’s word? How is that reflected in the time you spend meditating on the Scriptures?
When has God’s word been a refuge for you? How has it given you hope in hard times?
What changes do you need to make to give God’s word higher priority?