Wouldn't you love to say that everything you put your hand to works out great? That new job -- no problem. Recipes -- awesome. Your marriage -- a piece of cake. No matter the task, whether duty or delight, everything always works out perfect. Evidently, that's what was going on for Joseph. Whatever he did prospered. When he baked a cake, it came out moist and fluffy. When he ironed clothes, they looked flawless. When he split the firewood, one swing of the ax was all it took for the pieces to crumble away into perfectly-proportioned quarters. When he invested, the stocks soared. When he took a risk, it paid off. Though a servant, Joseph didn't seem to lack for much, at least not at this point in his life's story.
I thought about these verses in Genesis this morning when I was reading some verses along a contrary line of thought in my devotions. As much as I wish the Genesis verses described my life, I fear I relate much more closely with the following verses in Deuteronomy 28:
And thou shalt grope at noonday, as the blind gropeth in darkness, and thou shalt not prosper in thy ways: and thou shalt be only oppressed and spoiled evermore, and no man shall save thee. . .Thou shalt carry much seed out into the field, and shalt gather but little in; for the locust shall consume it. Thou shalt plant vineyards, and dress them, but shalt neither drink of the wine, nor gather the grapes; for the worms shall eat them. Thou shalt have olive trees throughout all thy coasts, but thou shalt not anoint thyself with the oil; for thine olive shall cast his fruit. Thou shalt beget sons and daughters, but thou shalt not enjoy them; for they shall go into captivity. All thy trees and fruit of thy land shall the locust consume. . . And they shall be upon thee for a sign and for a wonder, and upon thy seed for ever. Because thou servedst not the Lord thy God with joyfulness, and with gladness of heart, for the abundance of all things. . . And among these nations shalt thou find no ease, neither shall the sole of thy foot have rest: but the Lord shall give thee there a trembling heart, and failing of eyes, and sorrow of mind: And thy life shall hang in doubt before thee; and thou shalt fear day and night, and shalt have none assurance of thy life: In the morning thou shalt say, Would God it were even! and at even thou shalt say, Would God it were morning! for the fear of thine heart wherewith thou shalt fear, and for the sight of thine eyes which thou shalt see.
I don't mean to sing a sob story, but those verses just ring a tune of familiarity.
Thou shalt not prosper in thy ways. - Sure does feel that way when I'm struggling to make a single book sale or scouring for the least expensive ways to feed my family for the oncoming week.
Carrying much seed and gathering little - Oh yeah! Been there, done that.
Because thou hast not served the Lord with joyfulness and gladness of heart - Uh oh! I'm afraid that sounds a bit familiar too. Don't get me wrong, I want to serve the Lord, and I strive to do so, but I fear it's not always with joyfulness and gladness.
Trembling heart - Did I mention I've had trouble with my blood pressure lately?
Failing of eyes - Let's not even go there, okay?
Sorrow of mind - Suffice it to say that depression is real and yes, it can strike Christians.
Life shall hang in doubt and thou shalt fear day and night - It's downright shameful how well that describes me. I'm embarrassed to say that worry and doubt seem to be my constant companions these days.
I wish it were morning/evening - Yep, I've said that too.
Yes, I'm afraid as I read through the passage in Deuteronomy this morning, I couldn't help but see myself and my current state in life. . . and I began to grow discouraged, especially when my mind thought of Joseph and how everything prospered at his hand. I began to wonder why it is that things seem to work out just right for some people while others can't seem to catch a break no matter how hard they try. As I pondered these thoughts, I felt the stirring of the Spirit, and in that still small voice, He said, "Did you ever think that maybe everything prospered for Joseph because he was doing all the right things?" Hmm, interesting thought. Could it be that the reason things worked out for Joseph was because he was so in tune with God that he was always in His will? Could it be that he prospered because, no matter what he faced, he served the Lord with joyfulness and gladness of heart? I not only think it's possible; I think it's likely.
You know what else I think is possible? I think it's possible for us to be just as prosperous, but it's going to take some serious changes in our thoughts, actions and attitudes. If we want to reap the prosperity that Joseph reaped, we need to sow the seeds of faithfulness that Joseph sowed. Like Joseph, we must be so in tune with God that we are always in His will. We must determine that no matter what life throws our way, we will serve the Lord with joyfulness and gladness of heart. Then, and only then, will the Genesis passage replace the Deuteronomy passage in our lives.
Are you tired of working for nothing? Have you had enough of struggling day after day just to make it through? Are you ready to be prosperous in everything that you do? If so, then you know what you must do. As for me, it looks like it's going to be a very busy year--I have a lot of work to do. . .on myself!