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In Pit, Prison, or Palace

Key References: Genesis 39-41; Patriarchs and Prophets, chap. 20, pp. 213-223; The Bible Story (1994), vol. 2, pp. 40-46; 51-60; Our Beliefs, nos. 11, 21, 17.

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“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: ‘For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.’ No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us” (Romans 8:35-37).

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God blesses when we serve Him in spite of Satan’s obstacles.

Imagine how you would feel if someone took you away from your family. There was no time to say goodbye, no time to take anything you needed and wanted for the journey. You believed you would never see them again. How would you feel?

Today my life abruptly changed once again. Most people take transition slowly and gradually; not me! Change drops in on me like a blinding flash and without warning. I’ve learned that God is the only constant in my life.

Let me tell you what I mean. Let’s start at the first jolting change. Miles from home and safety, my angry, jealous brothers threw me into an empty, unused cistern.

Originally planning to kill me, instead they sold me to an Ishmaelite caravan on its way to Egypt. I pleaded with them to have mercy, but their sneering faces held out no hope as they handed me over to the Ishmaelites.

In one instant I was no longer my father’s favored son—I was a slave! I watched the familiar countryside fade from my view. I had to decide how I was going to react to all this. I remembered the stories my father had told me about God—his God. I decided I would claim Him as my God. I would rely completely on God and serve Him to the best of my ability, whatever happened to me. After making that decision, I was able to get a little sleep.

In Egypt I was sold to Potiphar, captain of the guard. Even though I was only 17 then, the Lord blessed me, and for 10 years I served Potiphar well. Everything prospered, and he treated me like a son rather than a slave. I valued his trust in me.

But once again my life changed in an instant. Because Potiphar’s wife raised false accusations against me, I went from favored slave to prisoner in a dungeon. At first I felt humiliated to receive the punishment due to criminals, because I was innocent. But then I remembered my father’s stories and how I had promised to serve God no matter what happened. I had chosen integrity as a rule of life, and in spite of the challenges I was facing, I knew I could trust the God of my fathers to fulfill His promises in my life.

So even in a dungeon I looked around for others to serve. I began organizing the prison and encouraging the prisoners. Eventually the guards put me in charge.

I’ll always remember when Pharaoh’s butler and baker were thrown into the prison. They both had dreams and asked me to interpret them. Unfortunately, the baker was going to be beheaded, but the butler was going to get his job back. I asked him to remember me when he would return to the palace.

Two years later I was still in prison. I had my thirtieth birthday and wondered how many more birthdays I would spend there. But one day I saw the sunshine again. I was whisked into the royal salon and given a bath, a shave, a haircut, and new clothes. Then I was taken before Pharaoh.

It seems Pharaoh had had a troubling dream. Once again God was giving me an opportunity to serve someone who needed help understanding what God was trying to communicate to him. I told Pharaoh about the years of plenty and the years of famine that were just ahead.

I told him that in order to survive the famine, he should choose a wise man to oversee the collection, storage, and later distribution of one fi fth of the food grown during the years of plenty.

After consulting with his advisers, Pharaoh chose me to be that man. “You shall be in charge of my palace, and all my people are to submit to your orders. Only with respect to the throne will I be greater than you.” . . . “I hereby put you in charge of the whole land of Egypt,” he said (Genesis 41:40, 41). Then he gave me his signet ring, a robe, a chariot, and even a wife—the beautiful Asenath.

In one day I went from favored prisoner to Zaphenath-Paneah, ruler of Egypt next to Pharaoh. I knew I did not deserve such great favor. The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob was once again at work in my life. This time He was calling me to serve Him at the palace.

God was entrusting me with the responsibility of preparing a nation for a time of crisis. What an honor it was to serve my God in a new field of responsibility!

God had been with me from the pit to the prison to the palace. I determined to continue serving Him faithfully for the rest of my life!