Genesis 39:19-23 (NIV)
I’m a huge boxing fan. Don’t judge! I wrote about being a boxing fan in my book A Place Called Common Sense. The short story in that book is entitled “Standing in the Shadow of Rocky Balboa” where I admit to my readers the fact of how much I love boxing. It’s my cross to bear I’m sure you’re thinking.
Let’s look at one boxer in particular. Muhammad Ali brings a flood of memories to us all. He was larger than life. There’s a joke about him that I read once. Reportedly, while on an airplane, the flight attendant told him to buckle up. He told her that Superman didn’t need a seat belt. She told him that Superman didn’t need an airplane. Too funny!
We all need help because none of us are Superman. God is always there to help us through the good, the bad, and the ugly. Kinda reminds me of my daddy. He too seemed like Superman to me. The strongest man I’ve ever known to be sure. He never let me down. I knew I could always count on him. Daddy left this world on December 19, 1995, and marched right into heaven like the soldier he was in life. He was a man of honor, a man of valor, a man who loved his family, his country, and God. He accomplished many things during his life on this earth. He not only served his country honorably in the military, he also taught high school, owned a restaurant, and played semi-pro baseball. He demanded certain things from his soldiers, his students, and me. Respect for others-especially my elders, honesty in all that I do, truthfulness when asked a question, doing my best at all times, being a good and loyal friend, never backing down from a fight, honoring my country, putting God first, and to take pride in everything I do. I miss him every day.
True Supermen are hard to find. Over the years it appears men have been stripped of their manhood. I’m sure this is why I admire my parents’ generation known as The Greatest Generation. When you look back over history—WWII, Korea—you see young men who fought hard for this country. Some to the death. They were fearless. My daddy was one of those young men. I know he’d be quite upset at the military today and how men have been made to feel less than men.
But there is some good news in all of this and that’s that they are slowly coming back.
Joseph had reached the age where he thought he could do no wrong. This part of the Joseph story in Genesis deals with Joseph at a low point in his life. Thirteen years—ages 17-30. He found himself accused of something he didn’t do. The Lord, however, was with Joseph even still.
Looking back, we can see when God is there with us. But while we’re in the moment, we can’t. When life becomes a rollercoaster, God is at every level. Joseph found himself on that rollercoaster. He ended up in prison because Potiphar’s wife accused him of sexual harassment. Joseph, being a slave, had no recourse and ended up in prison. He was in his early twenties and didn’t understand what was happening to him. Still, he continued to use his talent.
We see this type of event today. Women like Potiphar’s wife falsely accusing innocent men of rape or sexual harassment. Many of these women who lie do it for either money or celebrity. Women who wait years to come forward only to be discredited because they bring with them no evidence only accusations. This drastically harms those women who have actually been assaulted. That’s not to say all women who wait years are lying. It’s incumbent upon the authorities to make sure there is a solid case before ruining a man’s life. It’s always so odd to me how the media picks and chooses who they believe and then runs with that story. Yellow journalism hurts everyone.
In our scripture, we see the cupbearer and baker were also thrown in jail with Joseph by the Pharaoh because they’d offended him. Both men have these dreams and Joseph, being an interpreter of dreams, helps them. Both dreams come true, just as Joseph said and in return, Joseph askes the cupbearer to remember him.
Sadly, the guy forgets and Joseph spends another two years in prison. So I’m thinking, how would I feel if I were abandoned for something I didn’t do? How would you feel?
But God’s steadfast love was with Joseph. I’m not so sure Joseph understood that, especially between the ages of seventeen and thirty. After thirty, he probably did and saw God’s presence.
Finally, the cupbearer remembers Joseph, and Joseph was again at a high point. He’s now about thirty years old maybe a little over.
So here’s the stewardship of the gift for Joseph:
- Age 17 – life turns bad. For every positive, something negative happens.
- How did Joseph handle it?
- He used the gifts God gave him and he never blamed others.
- Do we, today, get better or do we get bitter given the same set of circumstances?
Viktor Frankl was an Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist. He was also a Holocaust survivor. He’s been quoted as saying, “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” Good stuff.
Nelson Mandela was quoted as saying, “As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn’t leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I’d still be in prison.” More good stuff.
Then there’s Ricky Jackson. Like Joseph, he was falsely accused. However, Jackson was falsely accused of murder. He spent 39 years in prison. He refused plea bargains because he knew he was innocent. Did he become bitter? Angry? Reportedly he said, “As far as I’m concerned, all is forgiven.” That takes so much faith, my friends. Forgiveness is a tough one for me. Although better than I was in the past, I’m still far from this type of forgiveness. God shakes His head at me every single day for this.
Could any of us say those things? I’m not so sure I could. We can never be free if we hold on to the bitterness and the anger. We can never live our lives in peace if we can never forgive. We’ll stay imprisoned if we don’t move toward the better.
Do you know that the Lord is with you always? Have you had times in your life when you felt abandoned?
During those times, did you choose better reaching up or bitter reaching down?
If you chose better, you already know that equals freedom. I’d love to hear your story. Feel free to share.
And that’s what I learned in Church……see ya next time!