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DON’T DESPAIR, GOD IS NEAR

 



DON’T DESPAIR, GOD IS NEAR

GOD IS PRESENT


Now Joseph had been taken down to Egypt.

And Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, captain of the guard, an Egyptian, bought him from the Ishmaelites.

GENESIS 39:1 NKJV

T

he bidding began at the auction block of Egypt, and for the second time in his young life, Joseph was on the market. The favored son of Jacob found himself prodded and pricked, examined for fleas, and pushed about like a donkey. Potiphar, an Egyptian officer, bought him. Joseph didn’t speak the language or know the culture. The food was strange, the work was grueling, and the odds were against him.

 

So we turn the page and brace for the worst. The next chapter in his story will describe Joseph’s consequential plunge into addiction, anger, or despair, right? Wrong.

 

“The LORD was with Joseph, and he was a successful man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian” (Genesis 39:2 NKJV). Joseph arrived in Egypt with nothing but the clothes on his back and the call of God on his heart. Yet by the end of four verses, he was running the house of the man who ran security for Pharaoh. How do we explain this turnaround? Simple: God was with him.

“The LORD was with Joseph, and he was a successful man.” (v. 2)

“His master saw that the LORD was with him.” (v. 3)

“The LORD blessed the Egyptian’s house for Joseph’s sake.” (v. 5)

“The blessing of the LORD was on all that he had.” (v. 5)

Joseph’s story just parted company with the volumes of self-help books and all the secret-to-success formulas that direct the struggler to an inner power (“dig deeper”). Joseph’s story points elsewhere (“look higher”). He succeeded because God was present. God was to Joseph what a blanket is to a baby—he was all over him.

 

Any chance he’d be the same for you? Here you are in your version of Egypt. It feels foreign. You don’t know the language. You never studied the vocabulary of crisis. You feel far from home, all alone. Money gone. Expectations dashed.

Friends vanished. Who’s left? God is.

 

If Joseph’s story is any precedent, God can use Egypt to teach you that he is with you. Your family may be gone. Your supporters may have left. Your counselor may be silent. But God has not budged. His promise still stands: “I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go” (Genesis 28:15 NIV).

 

 

You will never go where God is not.

Envision the next few hours of your life. Where will you find yourself? In a school? God indwells the classroom. On the highways? His presence lingers among the traffic. In the hospital operating room, the executive boardroom, the in-laws’ living room, the funeral home? God will be there. “He is not far from each one of us” (Acts 17:27 NKJV).

 


Don’t equate the presence of God with a good mood or a

pleasant temperament.

God is near whether you are happy or not.






                                    WHEN WE

REACH TO HIM FOR STRENGTH 

                                                    SHELLEY’S STORY


In Her Own Words:


L

ife! Just when I think I’m starting to understand and accept

God’s omnipotence in this pain-filled world, just when I’m starting to trust God despite the heartache I’ve experienced— the heartache he’s allowed—I am too often tested by the evil one. You too? When I’m reading God’s Word regularly, praying daily, and walking as best I can on his path of righteousness—when I’ve settled into a comfortable way of living out my faith in Jesus—then the roaring lion makes its presence among us known.

 

As a widow raising three teens on my own, I worked fulltime to match the social security payment I received for the kids—and we were still short. I looked all around for resources to help fill the emptiness of having no father, and then there were matters like arranging carpools, getting kids the tutoring they needed, and dealing with occasional monetary misses. We were comfortable, I paid my bills on time, and I was at peace with having men as friends. I didn’t let my insecurities send me searching for someone.

 

In 2001 I was working the job of my dreams when the pink slip arrived via a text on my cell phone. I was stunned! Just a few days earlier, I had taken out a loan to consolidate my credit cards to do away with them! Tears streaming down my face, I scrambled to figure out what to do.

Then a few days later came the shock of 9-11. Kaboom! I was unemployed, I was trying to process the unprocessable 911, I was seeing my daughter through surgery, and I had a teenage son severely outgrowing his clothes. I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised when my faith took a hit. Our family mantra had always been “We still have food in our mouths and a roof over our heads!” (This was my way of encouraging the kids to recognize God’s provision for us.) Now, down on my knees, overwhelmed and fearful, I repeated the promises of God while seeking both his mercy and his guidance.

 

It’s funny how God works in the background as our largerthan-life problems fill the foreground.

I called my boss, explained the pending surgery, and asked about my insurance. He offered to pay for three months of coverage, so I was grateful that the surgery was taken care of.

 

I asked God’s favor as I dealt with unemployment, and I asked him to show me what to do next. A friend suggested I go to school to get whatever education would provide me some self-sufficiency. This same friend encouraged me to get an internship that would provide some financial help and then offered to fill in any crisis needs that might arise. Semester after semester I found programs to cover the cost of school, and I graduated at the top of class.

 

Some families provided clothing for my son, and others periodically sent money for shoes. Life groups stepped up financially when needs overwhelmed my budget. When I reflect on that year of unemployment and other challenging years that followed, God fulfilled every single request I prayed for.

 

God makes this promise: Ask and you will receive! And God keeps that promise. He is faithful, and I am so proud to be his chosen one, even through each trial!

 


Open every pore of your soul to God’s presence.

 


We ask you—urge is more like it—that you keep on doing what we told you to do to please God, not in a dogged religious plod, but in a living, spirited dance.

1 THESSALONIANS 4:1–2 MSG

You don’t fix a struggling marriage with an affair, a drug problem with more drugs, debt with more debt. You don’t fix stupid with stupid. You don’t get out of a mess by making another one. Do what pleases God.

You will never go wrong doing what is right.

 


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