God is with us, is a statement that is believed theologically by the overwhelming majority of Christians. Immanuel, which means God is with us, was an announcement preceding the coming of the Christ Child. The Bible teaches clearly that God is not off somewhere far away, disinterested in me and what is happening in my life. Instead, the opposite is the reality that the God who is everywhere, is with me and He is interested in my life.
At times all of us feel that God is not listening, that He is not close by, and we are left to wonder does He really care about me and all that is transpiring in my life?
Reading through the story of Joseph in the book of Genesis I was struck by a repeated statement: “And God was with Joseph.”
Joseph was the favorite child of his father, and his father did a poor job of hiding his feelings. His brothers disliked Joseph because he told them about dreams he had that one day they would all bow down to him. Joseph’s behavior is a classic example of how to get your siblings riled up! One day they sold Joseph into slavery. Before they sold him, they roughed him up and threw him into a dry cistern.
In the midst of Joseph’s story, there is one theme: God was with Joseph! He was with Joseph at the bottom of a dry well. Ever been at the bottom of dry place? Are you in a dry place presently? These are the places and the times when we are quite tempted to believe that God does not care and He has abandoned us. The brothers of Joseph decided instead of killing their brother they would sell him into slavery. Joseph’s story is now going from bad to worse. Where is God in this story? He is with Joseph on his journey to Egypt. A man named Potiphar buys Joseph and puts him in charge of his household. “The Lord was with Joseph so that he prospered, and he lived in the house of his Egyptian master.” (Gen 39:2) Now we can see that God was helping Joseph. Joseph was blessed and prospered by the Lord and then something went terribly wrong. Potiphar’s wife wanted Joseph to compromise his convictions and values and when he refused she made up a story and Joseph ends up in prison. Where was God. Just when things looked like they were working out for Joseph, he gets thrown in prison. How unfair! Standing up for his faith and he receives a prison sentence? That is not right! Yet notice: “the Lord was with him; he showed him kindness and granted him favor in the eyes of the prison warden.” V.21
Not only was he is in prison he was in prison for a little over two years! He helped a prisoner and asked him upon his release to remember him and he forgot all about Jospeh. Well Joseph does get released and is elevated to a place of great responsibility. What do we learn?
- God is with us regardless of our address or circumstance.
- God is with us when we are by ourselves and all alone.
- God is with us when things are going well.
- God is with us when things are not going well.
- God is with us and He is for us.
There have been times that I have been disappointed and did not get what I wanted and I can see now that God was not only with me, He did me a favor! I did not need nor was I prepared our ready for what I wanted. Many of the painful events of my life have been the universities where I have learned the most and found God to be more than faithful. Our default is to think that God is with us when there is success and applause, and often fail to see that God is with us in prisons, pits and even at our pity party.
Regardless of where you are today, stop, pray, breathe and remember God is for you and He is with you.
There is good news my friends living through a pandemic: God is with us!