I am reminded every day of the incredible survivability of the Leland Cypress trees planted on the church property. We planted 234 Leyland Cypress trees not counting other trees and plants. What stands out to me is how the trees have grown where they were planted. Now, I need to point out that the quality of the soil is not consistent and they have not all grown at the same rate, but all, except 2 that we improperly planted, are thriving where they were planted.
I am reminded by the account of Joseph, that he also thrived where he was planted. My mind is thinking of one of his last trials before becoming the Pharaoh’s right-hand man. He grew in the face of the jealously of his step brothers. He grew as a slave in Potiphar’s house. And he even grew in an Egyptian prison after being falsely accused. It is not hard to imagine a person giving up on God, giving up on himself, giving up on others or giving up his faith. But Joseph did not of these, instead he continued to grow in the Lord and thrive where he was planted!
We read after landing in prison, “But the Lord was with Joseph and showed him steadfast love and gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison. And the keeper of the prison put Joseph in charge of all the prisoners who were in the prison. Whatever was done there, he was the one who did it.” (Genesis 39:21–22) Yes, God was looking out for Joseph as the text reminds us. We must also note the Joseph did not give up on God. The clearest statement of his faith is revealed in Joseph’s response to Pharaoh’s request to interpret his dream. Joseph’s response reveals what was in his heart and what he was thinking. He responded, “Joseph answered Pharaoh, “It is not in me; God will give Pharaoh a favorable answer.”” (Genesis 41:16) I want you to stop and think about this for a moment. Faced with repeated life altering difficulties, Joseph did give up on His Creator. It has been stated, when faced with difficult life situations we have two choices, “Grow Bitter” or “Grow Better!”
The key to growing through life’s difficulties is holding onto God’s promises. Choosing to focus on God’s numerous promises that remind us of His continual working in our lives, just as we see happening in Joseph’s life. One great promise to hold onto during those dark days is His promise, “for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”” (Hebrews 13:5b) We also know that trials are part and parcel of God’s working in me. “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13)
Let me leave you with one last verse that has been an encouragement to me to invest in learning God’s promises to me. “For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” (Romans 15:4)
-Pastor Joe Parkinson