Although just a servant in Potiphar’s house, Joseph became very successful. It was no secret that the Lord was the reason for Joseph’s success. Even Potiphar knew this, which led him to entrust everything he had to Joseph’s charge. But one day that all changed. Potiphar’s wife, upset she could not attain Joseph to satisfy her sexual desires, lied to the men of her household, and then to her own husband, accusing Joseph of trying to rape her (Gen. 39:1-18). So Potiphar put Joseph in prison. But the same Lord who was present with and prospered Joseph in Potiphar’s house was present with and prospered him in prison (Gen. 40:1-22).
When you’re in distressing circumstances, it’s hard to rest in God’s providence. Just ask the young married couple who recently buried their first child, or the mother who just learned her son has leukemia. Speak with the couple who is facing great financial loss after years of smart planning and saving. Talk to the woman who has just been served with divorce papers after finding out her husband is in love with another woman. Ask the man who is caring for his aging parents, watching them decline rapidly after serving God faithfully for a lifetime. Speak with the college student whose accident has impacted his or her life forever. Or talk to the young adult who is grieving over a broken engagement. In the midst of trials it is hard to remember that God is providentially bringing His purposes to pass through the very circumstances we are tempted to despise. But the story of Joseph’s life in Genesis 37 and 39-41 reminds us that we can trust God whether we’re in the pits or palaces of life.
From Pit to Potiphar
Joseph was the favored son of Jacob, so it’s no surprise that his brothers hated him. Their anger only intensified when Joseph brought a bad report of them to their father, and told his brothers about his dreams that revealed he would rule over them. One day, while on his way to check on his brothers for his father, Joseph’s brothers spotted him from afar and made a plan to kill him. But Reuben came up with a different plan to spare Joseph’s life. They would strip him and throw him into an empty pit with no food and no water.
While Reuben was away, likely tending the flocks, the other brothers saw a caravan of Ishmaelites on their way to Egypt, and Judah suggested they sell their brother. So they lifted Joseph out of the pit and sold him for a slave’s price. When Reuben returned he was greatly distressed (Gen. 37:30). Sadly, the brothers concealed their dirty deed with the blood of an animal. They dipped Joseph’s robe in the blood and showed it to their father, who concluded a fierce animal had devoured Joseph and deeply grieved the loss of his son. In the meantime, Joseph was sold in Egypt to Potiphar, one of Pharaoh’s officers.