I have never spent much time thinking about death. There were always so many things to do, people to see, parties to attend, games to play. Depression not in my vocabulary. I didn’t know what it was until late in my teens. Looking back, I can see there were episodes in my life where I was better acquainted with depression than I knew.
From the time I was 10 years old until just after my 18th birthday, my mother was dying of cancer. September 1974 she died. At the time, I was a student at a co-educational church high school. Our family just seemed to splinter apart, and I moved back home to try to help with my little sister. That didn’t work out well, although I’m not sure why. I don’t have many memories of that year. I think you could call it depression.
In June 1975 while driving Joni home after my graduation, I fell asleep and wrecked my car. The car caught on fire and burned, with everything I owned. By that time all my worldly goods were with me, nothing remained at home. I didn’t really have a home. In the car with my possessions were the clothes Joni brought for the week-end, and some of her sister’s stuff. Yep, up in smoke. Joni was injured when she hit the windshield. Can you spell D-e-p-r-e-s-s-i-o-n?
Less than a year later I’d been living in a motor home while working at a job in Santa Barbara. I left for work one morning as usual, but when I returned home, I found the motor home had burned to the ground. Once more all I owned was gone. Depression was something I knew better than I’d thought, better than I’d ever wanted to know!
As we pick up our story with Joseph, he is no stranger to depression! At age 17 his brothers had sold him as a slave. Depression. Joseph arrived in Egypt a stranger in a strange land, bought by Potiphar, Captain of Pharaoh’s Guard. Depression!
Yet, through all this Joseph was given extra measures of God’s Grace; he became a blessing to his master. Everything Joseph did was to first honor God, secondly honor his master, and thirdly honor his family name. Through Joseph’s choice to honor, Potiphar became extremely wealthy. He had no worries; his only concern was what he would choose to eat for dinner. As the years passed, a bond grew between these two men, master and slave-manager. Potiphar was well aware of Joseph’s values and morals; Joseph would always to do his best for God, Potiphar, and for himself, his name.
Now as Joseph waits in an inner room tied as a criminal, under guard, and knowing the penalty for rapists is death, what is going through his mind? What would be going through your mind? Would your inner voices be screaming out your innocence? No doubt they would be planning a defense, an argument to save your life. The only hope would be an appeal to this man you have come to know so well.
As all these plans race through your mind, you would almost certainly feel an undercurrent burning hot, roaring out the questions, “God, what happened? God, why have you put me here to die? If this is the end, why didn’t you just let my brothers kill me and have done with it?” Think how Joseph’s emotions would have raced and circled: anger, fear, revenge, hatred, loathing, terrified, belligerent, ready to spit in Potiphar’s eye, tears, anguish, denial, a laundry list of gut-wrenching passion.
I don’t know for sure what Joseph was thinking, but I think some of his thoughts would likely be the emotions listed above. Joseph was as human as you and me, with the same emotions, feelings, desires, and short comings. Joseph was not a perfect man. With his mind in a whirl, he pled with God to save him, and heard nothing but silence. Imagine a terrible truth dawning on him. God had forsaken him! God had left him to face what he didn’t deserve!
“When (Joseph’s) master heard the story his wife told him, saying, ‘This is how your slave treated me,’ (Potiphar) burned with anger. Joseph’s master took him and put him in prison, the place where the king’s prisoners were confined.” Genesis 39: 19,20
Several years ago someone pointed out that Potiphar didn’t believe his wife’s story. The penalty for touching an Egyptian woman, especially in a sexually provocative manner was immediate death. If Potiphar thought for a minute Joseph was guilty, he would have drug Joseph out of the house himself and killed Joseph on the spot! Joseph would have been executed. Another interesting circumstance: Joseph was taken to the “Light Duty Prison” where Pharaoh’s prisoners were jailed. Joseph wasn’t taken to the common folks prison, he went to “Executive Prison” where God was already setting up the next the chapter of the book, the next portion of the adventure.
Remember, we still know how Joseph’s story is going to end. From our point in history it would be so easy to tell Joseph to step up, suck it up, be a man!
Hold on a moment, how about us?
Honestly, right now I am so weary, so sick of being sick; I’m exhausted being strong. I think if I have to put up with one more question that feels the least bit condescending, I will erupt. There are too many questions about insurance coverage, my limited income, and how it affects our future. After nearly a year, I still cannot find a primary care physician willing to coordinate my care and fill out the necessary forms. I am in the process of exchanging the pain medicine taken for the past several years for something quite different. I hurt and I would like to strangle a Grizzly Bear! In my present state of mind, my best answer to financial issues is to somehow die in an accident, leaving life insurance to Joni.
Now don’t panic! I’m sharing how our thoughts can run, as life events feel unbearable, as pain and illness cross our wires leaving us without the ability to process clearly.
See, I don’t know the end of our story! I just know God has one because He told me He does! You don’t know the end of your story, but you can know God has one for you because He said so! Over and over God reminds us we are His, He has had, does have, and will have amazing plans for us. Plans for Each of us!
“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Eternal, “plans for peace, not evil, to give you a future and hope—never forget that.” Jeremiah 29:11 The Voice
Let Him keep you in Grace, in His process; even if you step out you can step back in again. If you have never been in, come on in, and if you feel like you can’t stay, ask for help from God and us! There are a whole lot of people who love to pray for others! And we do not need details. Just ask us to pray and it will be done. I don’t know where you are in this process, but I know you are not alone. There are others who have had similar circumstances, and as brothers and sisters in Christ we will carry each others burdens according to God’s plans for each and every one of us.
“Carry one another’s burdens; in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2
“So, first and foremost, I urge God’s people to pray. They should make their requests, petitions, and thanksgivings on behalf of all humanity. Teach them to pray for kings (or anyone in high places for that matter) so that we can lead quiet, peaceful lives—reverent, godly, and holy—all of which is good and acceptable before the eyes of God our Savior who desires for everyone to be saved and know the truth. Because
There is one God and one Mediator between God and us—
the man Jesus, God’s Anointed, Who gave His life as a ransom for all so that we might have freedom.”
1 Timothy 2:1-6 The Voice
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