The life of Joseph is one of the most remarkable stories found in the Bible. His life is a mixture of sadness and glory, of pain and of success. As a result, Joseph’s life contains many lessons from which we all can learn. One of those lessons is found in this passage, Gen. 39:7-18.
In these verses, we find Joseph at one of the lowest moments of his young life. We find him as a young man, having been sold into slavery into Egypt. There, he is purchased by a man named Potipher, and in Potipher’s house, Joseph quickly rises to a place of authority and prominence. However, Potipher’s wife has eyes for Joseph and attempts to get him to commit adultery with her. He refuses and actually has to run away from her, leaving his garment in her hand, Gen. 39:7-13. His coat had gotten him into trouble again. After she has been spurned by Joseph, Potipher’s wife accuses Joseph of attempting to rape her. Her husband, who is a high ranking Egyptian official, has Joseph thrown into the King’s prison.
Now I know it sounds like Joseph was “set up” and wrongfully sent to jail or prison. But, through it all, God allowed Joseph to learn some valuable lessons in life to make him a better person.
Now, Joseph wasn’t alone in having to go through a prison experience. In fact, many of the great men of the Bible found themselves in one prison or another. For instance, there is Samson, Daniel, Jeremiah, Hosea, John the Baptist, John, Peter, Paul, and Silas. Many of the Lord’s greatest servants had to go through the prison from time to time. In each of these prisons, the Lord revealed His power and providence on behalf of His servants.
We all find ourselves in prison from time to time. The prisons of life may not always be a physical jail experience but sometimes a spiritual one. Often, the trials, valleys and troubles of life can be compared to a prison experience. These times can cause us great problems, but they can also be the means to great success for the Lord. However, the prisons of life do not have to defeat you! God often leads us into the prison experiences of life so that we might thrive in His work and to His glory.
What I want to briefly show you through the experience of Joseph, is, if you’re a born again, converted Christian, that no matter what may come your way, you can have victory and become a great witness for God.
Let’s look at some facts about Joseph and his prison experience. There are some truths taught here that teach us How To Thrive In The Prisons Of Life.
PRISON IS A PLACE OF OPPRESSION. The Bible tells us that Joseph was “bound” in the prison. He had lost his liberty and was held against his will. It was a place of harshness and suffering that brought pain into the life of Joseph. However, Joseph was going to learn the powerful lesson that a person who’s life is lined up with the will of God is abundantly free despite the walls that surround him!
You see, the difference in a true born again child of God and the rest of the world is while they struggle through their difficulties, the child of God can rest in the sure knowledge that God has us where we are for His own purposes and that when we are walking in His ways, we are free despite the prison we find ourselves in at that moment.
Next, PRISON IS A PLACE OF OBSCURITY. When Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers and then when he was locked up in the prison house, it must have seemed to him that all those dreams he dreamed as a younger man had really meant nothing, Gen. 37:7-10.
He had dreamed that God was going to make something special out of his life, but here he is going nowhere fast. It must have seemed like God had forgotten all about Joseph. Surely, Joseph felt alone, deserted and defeated by the trials and problems he faced.
The prisons of life can leave us all feeling that way. When the problems of life mount up against us, it is easy to feel like we have been deserted by the Lord. When we are thrown into one of life’s prisons we tend to feel forgotten and overlooked by the Lord. The devil uses those times to whisper his lies to us and he says, “Well, if God really cares about you then why are you going through this valley?” Or, “You trusted God, and what did it get you but trouble. let me remind you that God does care! Others may forget about us, but God knows exactly where we are and what we’re facing. In fact, we have His promise concerning this matter in Luke 12:6-7; Heb. 4:15.
PRISON IS A PLACE OF OPPORTUNITY. In prison, Joseph had the great privilege of learning some valuable lessons about God. He learns about God’s Presence, God’s Providence, God’s Purposes and God’s Power. He learned lessons that could not have been learned under more pleasant circumstances.
The trials of life teach us lessons about God that cannot be learned any other way. Think about it, Daniel could not have learned of God’s power over the lions unless he was first cast into the lion’s den. The 3 Hebrew boys could not have learned that God was able to deliver them from the fire until they had been cast into the furnace. The Disciples would never have known that Jesus could still the storm until they found themselves in the midst of it. When we go through the prisons of life, we learn that God is with us, that He is able to sustain us, that He is greater than our problems. We learn the truth that the prisons of life are not designed to stop us, but to strengthen us!
PRISON IS A PLACE OF OBEDIENCE. Notice that even in the prison, Joseph remained faithful. For him, it was just another place of service. Joseph was a man of integrity, who was going to remain faithful to the Lord despite his circumstances. We don’t find Joseph sitting in his cell whining about how unfair everything is. We find him being a man of God, even when nothing is going his way! We can be in submission to God’s will for our lives, or we can be in rebellion to His will. The whole idea here is summed up in one word “faithfulness”. God’s desire for each of our lives is that we be faithful to Him and His will every minute of every day, regardless of what we are going through.
Finally, THE PRISON IS A PLACE OF OVERCOMING. Joseph remained in this prison for at least two years, probably for a while longer. However, while he was there, God greatly used him. Joseph glorified God while he was there and that the Lord used him to touch the lives of the other prisoners. Eventually, the day came when Joseph was delivered from the prison. In less than an hour, Joseph went from being a prisoner to being the Prime Minister of Egypt, Gen. 41:38-45. His life changed in an instant of time!
As we pass through the prisons of life, God is merely training us. God uses the difficulties of life to grow and teach us so that He might use our lives in a more wonderful way than would otherwise be possible. We must learn to yield to the Lord’s work in our lives and trust Him to have His way in us and through us. He knows where He wants us and He knows what He would have us do. We need to learn to trust Him and experience the best He has to offer us!
The Scriptures tell us to “repent ye therefore and be converted that your sins may be blotted out…” And, “Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.” If we want to be victorious in the prisons of life, we have to truly know Jesus and what his will is for our lives.