The Lord was with Joseph, and he became a successful man. Gen. 39:2
The Lord was with Joseph and showed him steadfast love. Gen. 39:21
The Lord was with him, and whatever he did, the Lord made it succeed. Gen. 39:23
Joseph’s success in the midst of heart-break was not in the change of circumstances, because things kept getting worse. He went from prosperity in Potiphar’s house to Pit #2, a prison. Joseph’s success in the midst of heart-break was not in remembering the dream, there is no mention of the dreams at all. But here, three times, we see where Joseph has hope to endure, to persevere, to even succeed: God was with him. And I love that just as he is being cast into his second pit, scripture includes that God was not only with him, but was showing him His steadfast love.
It would be easy to think that though Joseph found himself enduring trial after trial for years at a time, he didn’t feel the pain of it. We might just imagine him working hard, prospering in his various circumstances, floating along in a constant soothing revelation of the blessing and favor of God. So I’m glad that we get a small window into the reality of what Joseph endured in verses 51 and 52 of Genesis 41.
51 Joseph called the name of the firstborn Manasseh. “For,” he said, “God has made me forget all my hardship and all my father’s house.” 52 The name of the second he called Ephraim, “For God has made me fruitful in the land of my affliction.”
In his son Manasseh’s name we see that he did experience the hardship and pain of memories for years, but over time, God made him forget. In his son Ephraim’s name we see this land in Egypt was a land of affliction for Joseph, not a land of dreams come true in the Disney sense of the phrase. The pain was real. The heart ache was real. The memories of his home and family were real. But also real was the presence of God which made it possible not just to endure in a land of affliction, but to be fruitful.
There were twelve or thirteen years between the dream and the fulfillment of the dream. On each day in between, and on every day after, Joseph’s hope was in the presence of God. This is our hope as well. Whether or not you find yourself at the pit-phase in your story, or in the daily grind of cleaning Potiphar’s house, God’s presence is what will sustain you and cause you to succeed. In particular, His steadfast love will fuel your service. I’ve been praying this morning for various individuals who are broken-hearted (which may be another way of saying they have a broken dream), not that God would be with them and show them His steadfast love, because this is already happening, but I pray that they would have eyes to see Him and hearts to feel His steadfast love. And that they too will one day look at an Ephraim in their life and say, “God has made me fruitful in the land of my affliction.”
The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. -Psalm 34:18