Hardship is almost as common as breathing. The question is not if but when we will find ourselves in one of the painful pits of life.
At the same time, trials come with uncertainty. How intense will it be? How long will it last? This is why the counsel of well-meaning friends is often met with a bit of a grimace. When they say, You’ll be okay, we want to believe it. But if we are honest, we just don’t know it’s true.
But what if there was something to cling to? Better, what if there was someone to fasten our hope on? The Bible teaches us that God not only offers us encouragement when we’re in a difficult pit, but he actually enters into the pit with us to see us through. We really will be okay, because God is with us.
Joseph in the Pits
Imagine the emotional vice Joseph must have endured. After his brothers beat him and sold him to human traffickers, Joseph watched as another painful deal was made. The Ishmaelites sold him to an Egyptian (Genesis 37:36). Separated from his family and his homeland, Joseph would’ve felt alone. This is a surprising place for a man born into a family enveloped in promises, most notably of the closeness of God.
Now he is in a foreign land, cut off from his family, and — it would seem — drifting away from the shoreline of God’s blessings. Joseph is in a pit, and he seems to be very much alone. The writer of Genesis wants us to see and feel the bleakness, if only to show us God’s purpose in it.
God’s Purpose in the Pits
We might be tempted to conclude from his circumstances that God was either angry with Joseph or had abandoned him altogether. Likewise, when we encounter difficulty, we may think that God has disappeared, or that he is displeased with us.
“God is not only changing us through this. God is also with us through this.”