He was from a family of 12 other siblings along with a father and four mothers—and all of them living together under the same roof! At 17 he became the victim of human trafficking (sold into such a situation by no less than his brothers). By the grace of God he landed on his feet in a foreign land, found good work, but then was sexually harassed by his employer’s wife. When he refused her advances, he was thrown into prison. He met two inmates there and accurately predicted their immediate future. This led to him being brought before the ruler of the land to interpret some troubling dreams he had been having.
As much as it sounds like it, the above is not a reality show script or a movie–it is the story of Joseph. It’s historically true and spiritually enriching. One of the huge lessons from his life is how he experienced time in the pit without developing an attitude that life was the pits.
The more deeply you look into Joseph’s life, the greater you’re touched by this truth. For example, there doesn’t seem to be anything in his early life that would have prepared him for the difficulties he ended up facing. Joseph was the next to last child in the family, the firstborn of Rachel, and his father’s favorite (Genesis 37:3-4). Jacob gave Joseph a special robe that was a visible symbol of his most favored status. All of this spoke of an entitled child—which is exactly what Joseph appears to be. His brothers were doing the work, while Joseph’s job was to go out and check on them and report back to his father (v. 12-14). There’s nothing in his background to suggest Joseph was raised in a spiritual boot camp. That’s why it’s so amazing that despite being betrayed by his brothers, his employer’s wife (and in some sense his employer), and later by a fellow inmate—Joseph never became bitter. Despite time in the pit and in prison—he never became despairing. Instead, he displayed a deep and abiding trust in his Father.
Three things to remember when we find ourselves in a pit:
1. God is with us in the pit.
2. God will bring us through the pit.
3. God will make good come from the pit.
I’m not suggesting it’s always easy to do these things but Joseph’s example should inspire us to focus on our Father rather than our circumstances. As we do this, we live lives that are powered by hope rather than fear. That makes all of the difference in the world.
There’s a grave marker in a cemetery in Albuquerque, NM, over the spot where five-year-old Billy Ducott was laid to rest after his brief life was ended by Burkitt’s Lymphoma. In the course of fighting the disease, Billy was taken to Children’s Hospital in Boston for treatment that ultimately proved unsuccessful. The family’s wish was for Billy to be taken home to die but his condition had deteriorated to such an extent that this seemed impossible until Dr. Hope Druckman, a pediatric resident, offered to accompany Billy and his parents back to Albuquerque.
Their plans hit a snag when they made connections in Dallas and the airline refused to allow Billy to board due to his condition. They spent the night at a local hospital where Dr. Druckman tried for two hours to get Billy on an Air Force medivac flight. When this fell through, she called a local surgeon who owned a small plane. After hearing Billy’s story, he agreed to help—but his plane was too small to take everyone. Early in the morning Dr. Druckman and Billy departed in the private plane, while his parents took a commercial flight. When they all landed in Albuquerque, Billy was taken to a local hospital where, surrounded by his family, he died not long afterward. The marker over his grave bears his name, the date of his birth and death, and these four words— “Hope brought him home.”
That’s our story, too.