Understand, Joseph was different. His philosophy of life is given to us in this passage of scripture. It’s possible that at the beginning of all this, Joseph thought about getting even. Who wouldn’t? Thrown into a well? Sold into slavery? Ending up in prison? Perhaps he had harbored some bitterness for a while. Who wouldn’t? But he had learned that there was no reason or place for bitterness because as he says in vs. 20, “You meant it for evil but God meant it for good.”
But Joseph had learned more than that. Joseph had learned that in the midst of suffering and in the midst of adversity, God knows. God knew Joseph. He saw young Joseph in the bottom of that pit. He was with Joseph in Potiphar’s house. God was Joseph’s strength while he sat in that prison. God knew Joseph and exactly what he was experiencing. The truth is, God knows you, too. In fact, He knows more about you and your situation today than you know about yourself. The Bible says that God knows us intimately. Jesus said that God knows us so intimately that the hairs of our head are numbered. Now folks, I’ve got a lot of hair. My kids say it isn’t as much as it used to be, and if you could see my senior pictures from high school you would agree, but it’s still quite a bit. And God knows exactly how many there are.
Some of you might say, “Preacher, that’s silly. God has more important things to do than to count the hairs on my head.” Read this next statement very carefully. Nothing is more important to God than you! He created you. He knows the best there is to know about you, and He knows the worst there is to know about you, and in spite of it all He still loves you.
Do you want to know something that is incredible? God knows about you in times of trouble. In the midst of adversity and suffering — whatever it might be — God knows. Just as God knew every time Joseph was in trouble, the Lord God almighty knows your problems. We need to make sure that every young person hears this just like Asaph tells us in Psalm 78: when you’re out with your friends and they’re trying to talk you into doing something stupid, God is right there with you. He understands peer pressure. He knows temptations. In fact, Hebrews 4:15 tells us that Jesus Christ experienced every possible temptation that we would ever face. He knows what it’s like. And by the way, the very human Jesus faced those temptations without sin. And by the way, Senior Adult, when it seems like you’re about to give in and lose everything, God is there with you, too. He knows.
But sometimes it seems that it isn’t enough to know that God knows. There is another truth that Joseph learned in the midst of his suffering. Joseph learned that God cares. Joseph had learned it years earlier in that pit and in that prison. Just three chapters away in the book of Exodus, an entire nation learned that God cares. As the Egyptians forced them to work harder, as the Egyptians put their babies to death, the people of Israel began to cry out to God and there are three Hebrew words that are used to describe God’s response. He gazed intently at their sufferings; He heard their strangled cries of oppression; and He knew intimately their sorrows. You see, God cares.
God cares enough about you to get involved in your pain. He got involved in Joseph’s situation and worked in it for good. His brothers thought they were getting rid of Joseph. They were going to teach that arrogant, insolent teenager a lesson he would never forget. But God used it to get Joseph where He could use him. Potiphar’s wife thought she would teach this proud young man who refused to sleep with her a lesson, but God used it to put Joseph on the fast track to the palace. See, if Joseph had not been sent to prison, he would never have met the Pharaoh’s chief steward who would introduce Joseph to the Pharaoh in God’s timing. Joseph had learned that God cared for His children even in the midst of adversity.
I know that many people have been through things far worse than I have, but when a doctor tells you there is nothing more they can do for your granddaughter, it is easy to question whether God cares or not, but I promise you that He did. God demonstrated that care through His people. It was evident through the people reaching out to minister to our children and to us in that hospital waiting room three years ago. But even better, God demonstrated His care for us 2,000 years ago when He gave His Son, Jesus, to die on Calvary’s Cross, to pay the price for your sin and for mine so that if we should believe in Him, we can have everlasting life and that is worth more than anything else in this life. That brings me to the third truth Joseph learned in the bottom of the well.
Joseph learned that God delivers. God delivered him from the pit. God delivered him from Potiphar’s wife. God delivered him from prison. And God delivered him to a place of power where he could save his people from starvation. So understand that if God can deliver Joseph from all of that, He can certainly deliver us from the petty little things that bother us. And if He can deliver us from the petty little things that bother us, He can deliver us from the major things that happen to us. And if He can deliver us from the major things that happen to us, I know that He can also deliver us from sin. Listen, we have a sin problem. It is all around us and it is within us, but praise God, He can help us to deal with it by His forgiveness. 1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sin, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sin and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Do you know what it means to confess? It means that we agree with God that we’ve done wrong. It’s not enough to say, “I did it.” We’ve got to say, “I did it, I know it was wrong, and with your help I’ll never do it again.” And He will help. The Bible tells us that God strengthens us and empowers us so that we can live without yielding to the temptations that come against us. “Resist the devil and he will flee.” “Flee youthful lusts.” “Take on the whole armor of God so that you can fight.” God can deliver us from sin.
Not only can God deliver us from sin, but also He can deliver us from suffering. Understand, suffering is an inescapable fact of life. It’s inescapable because we live in a world poisoned by sin. But Jesus experienced suffering. He can identify with our pain – whatever it may be — because He’s been there. The truth is, a lot of people have been there. If I’m sinking in a pit of quicksand I don’t want someone to stand there and say, “I’ve been there, man.” And I don’t want someone to jump in with me and say, “I’m here for you” while he sinks to the bottom with me. I want someone who’s been there and overcome. Jesus Christ is that man. He is the good Shepherd who walks with us through the valley of the shadow of death. But the truth is He is the one who has conquered death. They nailed Him to Calvary’s tree. He died there, bruised and bloodied for our sins. It was necessary for Him to die, so that on the third day He would rise from the dead taking the sting out of death and the strength out of sin so that you and I could know that God knows, God cares, and God delivers.