Joseph’s faith and faithfulness, were forged at least in part in the crucible of suffering. He was so trustworthy, able, and conscientious that, though he was a slave, he became manager of his master’s household. This was true both in Potiphar’s house and later in the prison. Joseph was scrupulously faithful to the requirements of God’s holiness concerning Potiphar’s wife, even though that faithfulness cost him dearly. He did not spend his days complaining about all the injustice he had suffered. Rather, in the place of suffering, Joseph continued to do and be just as he had in the place of great blessing. When he first met Pharaoh, Joseph gave clear witness to the Lord. Indeed, in a circumstance when most men’s courage would have failed, the first words Joseph spoke to mighty Pharaoh were a correction of his theology (41:15, 16). Joseph refused to be given credit for what God had done. Though he was betrayed by his brothers, sold as a slave, and imprisoned unjustly Joseph remained steadfastly loyal to the Lord.
Of Joseph, the 19th century Scot, George Lawson wrote:
“Joseph was in early days the favorite son of a venerable father. He was, in the next period of his life, a slave, and then a prisoner, held in long confinement under the imputation of one of the worst…of crimes; but in the best and longest period of his eventful life, he was the lord of all the land of Egypt, trusted with all the power of the king, and honored by the people as their savior from destruction. Let us not be greatly dejected by adversity, let us not trust in prosperity. It is a storm and tempest today; it may be sunshine tomorrow. If it should, storms may again disturb our tranquility.”
We should take to heart these words. In this world of constant change, fallen desires, and wicked acts, our circumstances change routinely. But the changing tides of circumstance are nevertheless in the hands of Almighty God. What must be determined is whether we will be faithful in both abundance and austerity, comfort and sorrow.
That said, the ultimate end for God’s people is unimaginable blessing in the age to come. This future glory was purchased by Jesus who died the death of a criminal slave that we might be delivered from certain destruction. Joseph’s rise from shackles to signet ring serves as a pattern for our own trajectory. We may never be wealthy or healthy in this life, but the “pattern of humility and exaltation is the pattern for all the saints: ‘Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time’ (1 Peter 5:6)” (Waltke, 537).