Posted by: mikenicholsblog | October 11, 2012

long winters

Talk about an incredible journey! He was sold into slavery by his brothers, accused of immorality by his boss’s wife, thrown into prison for the false accusation, forgotten by a man he helped in prison, and then rose to become second in charge of Egypt. It just doesn’t seem like the 21st century model of how to get to the top. Most of you have heard about this character, Joseph. He was seventeen when his brothers sold him to a caravan headed for Egypt. And thirty when he was delivered from prison. His season of struggle was long, but his life was a picture of honoring God. Emotionally, it is hard for us to rationalize that honoring God will often lead us through “long winters”. Viewing Joseph’s life gives us a model for enduring those times.

Joseph’s road to Egypt was tragic, but his time there was blessed by God. I am convinced that even as a young man, his life revealed genuine faith. Look at what Scripture conveys about his beginnings in Egypt.

Genesis 39:2(a)
The Lord was with Joseph and he prospered…
Genesis 39:3(b)
The Lord gave him success in everything he did…
Genesis 39:5
From the time he put him in charge of his household and all that he owned, the Lord blessed the household of the Egyptian because of Joseph.

After being abused by his brothers, his life brought the blessing of God to the house of Potiphar (the Egyptian). But then Potiphar’s wife makes false accusations against him. That sure doesn’t seem fair, does it? But who said life was fair? The event lands him in prison, but we again see evidence of a man walking with God.

Genesis 39:20(b)-21
But while Joseph was there in prison, the Lord was with him; he showed him kindness and granted him favor in the eyes of the prison warden.
Genesis 39:23
The warden paid no attention to anything under Joseph’s care, because the Lord was with Joseph and gave him success in whatever he did.

Joseph’s “long winter” was extended when a man he helped in prison forgot about him. But in the sovereignty of God, the Pharaoh of Egypt needed his dream interpreted. The forgetful cupbearer remembers Joseph, who had interpreted his dream in prison. Joseph is brought to Pharaoh, interprets his dream and rises to second in command of the whole of Egypt.

As hard as his journey was, it prepared Joseph for the amazing path God had planned for him. By viewing his story through the lens of history, we find evidence throughout his journey that Joseph confronted his obstacles with God-pleasing focus. It’s now a few thousand years later, but “long winters” persist. Our lives experience seasons of difficultly, and we wonder about God’s purpose in the midst of them. We don’t have the forward revelation that brings our history into view. But we can be sure that God has a unique and specific plan for our lives. One that often finds today’s difficulty preparing us for tomorrow’s test. Will we be faithful as Joseph was?  Will we be courageous and consistent, obediently facing each obstacle? And will it be said of us that we confronted our “ long winters” with God-pleasing focus?


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