Friday, February 25, 2011

Experiencing Pits

"And they took him, and cast him into a pit…    Genesis 37:24

Joseph is one of those biblical characters who got down in the pits-literally. We sometimes get down in the pits too, maybe not literally like Joseph, but when we are there we feel like it's a real pit with high walls, stinky and damp, and nothing but dirt at the bottom.

Have you ever been in one of life's pits and you keep climbing and climbing trying to get out? You think you are making progress, and the next thing you know, you've landed back at the bottom again. God knew all about Joseph being down in that pit and he knows about our pits too.

If you are not familiar with the story of Joseph, you'll find his story begins in Genesis chapter 37. Joseph's brothers were jealous of him and put him in a pit. Sometimes we get into pits too. It may be that others push us there like Joseph's brothers did or it may be we just don't see that hole, and trip and fall. Joseph was not in that pit his brothers put him in too long but when he emerged he didn't stop to have a bowl of ice cream with a cherry on top. He went straight to being a slave. He ended up being in yet another pit in his life.

Personally, I love the story of Joseph. Every time I read through it, I see so many things that we can relate to in the now and now. Some of the pits of daily life that Joseph faced are the same ones we face today.

  1. Joseph had to endure hatred.

    If you remember this bible story, you know that Joseph was his father's favorite son because he was the son of his father's old age. Joseph's father gave him a coat of many colors and this made his brothers jealous of Joseph and they hated him.

    And when his brethren saw that their father loved him more than all his brethren, they hated him, and could not speak peaceably unto him. Genesis 37:4

    Hate is an awful thing, especially when it is directed at you. It is especially awful when it is directed at you by a family member. Poor Joseph. Here he was with 10 older brothers that hated him. This story starts off in Genesis 37 with Joseph being 17 years old. Being a teenager is hard enough without all of your brothers hating you. Talk about dysfunctional families. Doesn't this sound like an episode from today's TV talk shows? Tune in to the story of a boy named Joseph and his 10 older brothers who hated him enough to leave him in a pit.

    As the story goes along, Joseph told his brothers about his dreams of how they were all going to bow down to him. What happened? His brothers hated Joseph even more. Hate upon top of hate is a very cruel thing and if you are the object of hate at this moment, I feel for you, as that pit can be a dark and murky place to be.

    And Joseph dreamed a dream, and he told it his brethren: and they hated him yet the more. Genesis 37:5
  2. Joseph had to endure mean speech directed toward him.

    Not only did Joseph endure hatred from his brothers but notice that last part of verse 4 of Genesis 37.

    …they hated him, and could not speak peaceable unto him.

    Have you ever found yourself the target of disagreeable words directed to you or about you? Some people endure this situation at their workplace every single day. Dealing with disagreeable people and their mean speech day in and day out can really grate on your nerves and you may feel like you are down in that pit with the high walls about you.
  3. Joseph had to endure an empty pit.

    I've never had to endure being put into a pit in the ground but Joseph did. He wasn't even grabbed by a stranger and put there but Joseph's own brothers did this to him. How that must have made Joseph feel. He was not only in an empty pit but how he must have felt empty inside himself as well. I know we have all felt emptiness at one time or another in our lives, maybe through a loss of a loved one or some other tragedy that we've experienced.

    And they took him, and cast him into a pit: and the pit was empty, there was no water in it. Genesis 37:24
  4. Joseph had to endure slavery.

    None of us will probably ever have to endure the pit of slavery but it was something that came along in Joseph's life that he had to deal with. While Joseph was in the pit his brothers had placed him in, some Midianites came along and got him out. They sold him to some Ishmeelites, and they took Joseph down to Egypt and sold him to Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh,

    Then there passed by Midianites merchantmen; and they drew and lifted up Joseph out of the pit, and sold Joseph to the Ishmeelites for twenty pieces of silver: and they brought Joseph into Egypt. Genesis 37:28

    And the Midianites sold him into Egypt unto Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh's, and captain of the guard. Genesis 37:36
  5. Joseph had to endure temptation.

    One of the things Joseph faced was temptation. He didn't give into that temptation but he was faced with it just the same. While he was working for Potiphar, Potiphar's wife came to Joseph and wanted him to lie with her.

    And it came to pass after these things, that his master's wife cast her eyes upon Joseph;and she said, Lie with me. But he refused, and said unto his master's wife, Behold, my master wotteth not what is with me in the house, and he hath committed all that he hath to my hand; There is none greater in this house than I; neither hath he kept back any thing from me but thee, because thou art his wife: how then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God? And it came to pass, as she spake to Joseph day by day, that he hearkened not unto her, to lie by her, or to be with her. Genesis 39:7-10

    Notice in verse 10 of that passage that she spoke to Joseph day by day. Some of us have trouble dealing with temptation at some point or another but to be met with the same temptation day after day must have made it a trying time for Joseph.
  6. Joseph had to endure false accusations.

    Another thing Joseph had to endure was false accusations. When his master's wife couldn't get Joseph to do what she wanted, she falsely accused him of trying to attack her. The result of this was that Joseph was thrown into prison, yet another one of those pits he had to face. That part of the story is found in Genesis 39:7-20. Being falsely accused for any reason can really bring you down low and you may feel like you are face down in the dirt at the bottom of nowhere. When you try to climb out you find that the walls can be slick and you may think there's no escape in sight.
  7. Joseph had to endure being forgotten.

    Have you ever been in one of those pits in your life, whether it is spiritual, financial, physical, or something else, and the walls are growing higher and the darkness is closing in, and you just feel forgotten? You feel like God has forgotten you and every friend you've ever had has forgotten you as well? Although God never forgot Joseph, others forgot him for a time. Joseph had interpreted the dreams of two other prisoners while in prison. One of those men was restored to his position as Pharaoh's butler and Joseph asked him to remember him.

    But think on me when it shall be well with thee, and shew kindness, I pray thee, unto me, and make mention of me unto Pharaoh, and bring me out of this house: Genesis 40:14

    This man eventually remembered Joseph when Pharaoh needed help with his own dreams, but it was an entire two years later.

Even through all of these things that Joseph faced, I see two remarkable things that stand out. One is that the Lord is with us in our pits and the other is that the Lord can bless us while we are in our pits. Perhaps these two things are what helped Joseph endure all that he did.

The Lord Is With Us In Our Pits.
God was with Joseph in his pits. Look what it says in the first few verses of Genesis chapter 39.

And Joseph was brought down to Egypt; and Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, captain of the guard, an Egyptian, bought him of the hands of the Ishmeelites, which had brought him down thither. And the LORD was with Joseph, and he was a prosperous man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian. Genesis 39:1,2

We also see this later in the chapter after the incident with his Potiphar's wife when Joseph was thrown into prison.

But the LORD was with Joseph, and shewed him mercy, and gave him favour in the sight of the keeper of the prison. And the keeper of the prison committed to Joseph's hand all the prisoners that were in the prison; and whatsoever they did there, he was the doer of it. The keeper of the prison looked not to any thing that was under his hand; because the LORD was with him, and that which he did, the LORD made it to prosper. Genesis 39:21-23

The Lord is with us in our pits too. Sometimes we don't think He is because we are too busy whiffing in all that stinky musty smell that we are surrounded with down in the pit that we are in at the time. We forget to look around and see the Lord because we're too busy concentrating on the bad part of our pit.

The Lord Can Bless Us While We Are In Our Pits
Don't you think it's amazing how God worked within Joseph's life right when he was in the midst of his pits? Even though Joseph was in the pit of slavery, God still was blessing him.

And his master saw that the LORD was with him, and that the LORD made all that he did to prosper in his hand. And Joseph found grace in his sight, and he served him: and he made him overseer over his house, and all that he had he put into his hand. And it came to pass from the time that he had made him overseer in his house, and over all that he had, that the LORD blessed the Egyptian's house for Joseph's sake; and the blessing of the LORD was upon all that he had in the house, and in the field. And he left all that he had in Joseph's hand; and he knew not ought he had, save the bread which he did eat. And Joseph was a goodly person, and well favoured. Genesis 39:3-6

If you know the whole story of Joseph, you know that later on he was blessed even more by being put into place as the highest authority in the land other than Pharaoh but it was a long road in getting there. We might be going through some real difficulties in our own lives. It could be financial; health problems, or some other type of pit, but the Lord can still bless us in the midst of it, even when we are way down there seemingly all alone and our heart is heavy and our tears are flowing. Sometimes we overlook the blessings that come at those times. We're so busy seeing what the Lord isn't doing in our lives that we miss the things He is doing.

I hope I can be like Joseph and endure the things that are placed in my path on an every day basis. Everything isn't always smooth sailing but we have a God that never leaves us and is always there to bless us no matter what the situation holds.

So, how are you enduring your pits?


They call me "Deb" said...

I found that although "mountain top" experiences are awesome - the "river" flows deepest in the valleys. I know we'd all love to be on top of the world all the time, the valley is full and rich and fruitful.
Praying that you will find 'refreshing' and 'fruit' in your pit experience my friend! And like Joseph, you will be able to discern God's plan in it all.
Hugs and prayers,

Sherry @ Lamp Unto My Feet said...

Praise God for Joseph's faithfulness in spite of all that was done to him. He is an amazing testimony to us all! I pray that I can be faithful in adversity.