“But the LORD was with Joseph and showed him steadfast love and showed him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison…because the LORD was with him. And whatever he did, the LORD made it succeed.” (Genesis 39: 21, 23)
My broken friend tells me she no longer springs out of bed to tackle the day. Her new reality thwarts every step, hinders her, threatens to stifle every drop of her oxygen. Like an endless screeching, the magnitude of the loss hijacks her attention, obstructing her peace with its dissonance.
When she cannot pull the covers back, when her body is sinking into the mattress like dead weight, she taps her sister’s cell number. She cannot speak, but she doesn’t need to. The other woman hears my friend’s silent ache as if it was a lengthy conversation. The rustling of pages follows, and the voice on the other side of this chasm reads a psalm, then another. The words carry the comfort of a mother’s arms encircling a hurting child.
My friend weeps long after the call is over. Then draws in breath. And after a long spell, though her feet cannot yet swing to the floor, her eyes turn to the bedside table.
The worn biography of George Muller sits unopened, but she remembers snatches from this evangelist’s life. Muller housed and cared for over 10,000 orphans in Bristol, England, during the 19thCentury, without ever asking for human assistance. He appealed, instead, to God alone for the smallest, necessary details, wanting to prove to the watching world that God could be trusted.
Like a tiny sprout, a thought cracks through the hard crust of her heart. Perhaps right where she is, in the middle of her ache, she can trust God to provide for her needs, too. Perhaps his grace is still enough for her to endure all this. Perhaps.
Later, her neighbor brings by a covered dish and talks openly of how unfair life has been. My friend agrees. Then adds, “I believe God is still good.”
“He must be if you can say so,” her neighbor replies.
When nighttime comes, sleep will not. She thumbs through her Bible and reads Genesis 39 where Joseph was sold into slavery and hurled into prison. It feels as if she, too, has been kidnapped, cast deep down, sold into bondage. She is a prisoner in a foreign land of loss, incapable of escape, nothing she possesses capable of easing the ache.
She notices that all through Joseph’s hardships one phrase was repeated: “The LORD was with Joseph.” Joseph served God as a slave, in a strange land, surrounded by everything alien. Throughout his ordeal God stood by Joseph, no matter what he faced. God did not rescue Joseph and magically return his life to normal. Rather, God stood with Joseph, gave him the grace to survive, and prospered him in spite of the dreadful injustices he endured.
The words are a rope thrown into her pit. My friend reaches for its frayed end, holds it tightly, and imagines the rescue to come.
Elizabeth Ann Mitchell
Photo Credit: Adarsh Hummer on Unsplash