In Genesis, the beginning of all things between man and God, we find the first parts of the relationship we (mankind) regrettably broke with God. Though Adam severed our ties with God with a blinding act of willful disobedience, God chose not to abandon the mankind he created. He chose not to abandon us. He’s got a plan to restore everything, and he’s right here with us through it all. All He asks is for us to trust him in the process.
This story arc seems all well and good and easy to consume until you try to apply it your very own reality. How could we know God is with us?
It’s easy for us to look at Adam and grunt. He should have trusted God. After all, God was with him daily, going on little walks through the garden. It must have been easy for Noah to trust God. God spoke directly to him. It’s hard not to know God is with you when you have an audible voice speaking to you. Same for Abraham. How could he ever feel abandoned when the Lord repeatedly granted him favor and visited with him on several occasions. Jacob physically wrestled God. I feel like that’s a pretty key indicator God is with you. It seems like these guys had it easy. God revealed himself to them several times through physical manifestations. Of course they trusted God, of course they knew he was with them. The shocking part is that a lot of times, they didn’t.
Then we get to Joseph. A man who, through no fault of his own, is rejected by his own brothers and sold into slavery to a racist foreign land. At no point in Joseph’s story is it revealed to us that God spoke to him or appeared to him in a physical manifestation, yet we find these words directly after his betrayal:
The LORD was with Joseph…
— Genesis 39:2
Though Joseph was in dire straits, he chose to live a life with integrity, so the LORD blessed him as a slave. When tempted by the captain if the guard’s wife, he rejected her with the words “How can I sin against God?” Here he made the right choice but was still wrongly convicted and thrown in prison. Then we read this:
But the LORD was with Joseph and showed steadfast love and gave him favor in the sight of the keeper.
— Genesis 39:21
Not only was the LORD with Joseph, he showed steadfast love. This is all while Joseph is in prison, undeservedly, for a second time. And Joseph continues to trust God. He whole-heartedly believes he is not abandoned. He spends years in prison until, his ability to interpret dreams holds the key to getting him out. And what does Joseph say about this? He gives God the credit for revealing the meanings of dreams to him. He has now spent decades in Egypt as a slave, and immediately he gives God credit for his deliverance.
With his God-given wisdom he rises to the top in Egypt as ruler of all and soon finds himself with a choice to give or deny his brothers food during a deadly famine. These are the same brothers who brought on his life of slavery, who stripped him of his loving father and betrayed him. And what does Joseph choose now?
”And now do not be distressed or angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life.”
— Genesis 45:5
“And God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to keep alive for you many survivors.”
— Genesis 45:7
“So it was not you who sent me here but God. He has made me ruler of all of Egypt.”
— Genesis 45:8
That’s a lot to unpack. Though God did not audibly or physically reveal himself to Joseph, Joseph knew God was with him. He knew the bad in his life came to accomplish God’s good plans. What his brothers meant for evil, God transformed for good. He never abandoned Joseph. God hadn’t checked out during the bad times, but was with him through every step, providing for him and loving him all along the way.
In our own lives, there are storms we weathered where it was hard to see if God hadn’t left us, but if you take the time to re-examine those storms, you will find him there. He is always there. Maybe you’re in a terrible storm right now. Keep choosing God, because I promise that he is choosing you, and he is working a plan. What this world means to use for evil, God uses for good. His plan is to restore us to him, so live the life of Joseph and know that God is with you. Trust him, he is there.