In Genesis 37 we are told that the young Joseph, favored son of his father, Jacob, was sold into slavery in Egypt by his own brothers. The sacred text tells us how faithful Joseph was – to God and everyone around him. How many 17 year old young men, betrayed and sold by his own brothers, kidnapped by slave-traders, sold into servitude in a land far from home, would function with such faith? How many instead would use these traumas as a lifelong excuse for bitterly blaming God, going through life with a chip on their shoulder, wiping their feet on God’s commandments because of a rough childhood? How is it that young Joseph remains so Godly? The answer is found in the refrain: “The Lord was with Joseph.” To Joseph, it does not so much matter where he is, but that wherever he is, the Lord is with him.”
The movie, The Shawshank Redemption, is about a man sent to prison for a murder he never committed. At one point, after spending a good deal of time in the hole – in solitary confinement – the other prisoners ask him how his sanity could withstand being alone so long in the dark. “I had Mr. Mozart to keep me company….It was in here,” he said, tapping his head. “And in here,” he said, touching his heart. “That’s the beauty of music. They can’t get that from you”. Something like this, only infinitely more powerful, explains how Joseph not only survived, but thrived amid his trials and despite his troubles.
Psalm 119:12 says: “I have hidden your Word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” Some of our prisoners of war in North Vietnam years ago did a neat thing. Deprived of the Scriptures in their confinement, they pasted together from memory as much of the Bible as each man could remember. Many of them could do this because they had hidden God’s Word in their heart from their youth. True, we cannot carry a Bible in hand while operating heavy machinery, driving a tractor or backing up an 18-wheeler. But if we hide God’s law and gospel in our heart, no one can take this away. You can take Joseph away from father and home. You can take away his freedom and youthful dreams. You can take away a man’s health. You can take away his job. You can take away his reputation. You can take away every earthly support. But you cannot take away the Word which is hidden in his heart, the Word that convicts, pardons, renews, encourages, saves and points the way home. As the Lord was with Joseph, so He promises to be with us also.