Monday, October 25, 2010


Rain arrived last Saturday in the Pacific Northwest, and it‘s more likely than possible that we‘ll not see much sun until May. I finally cut sales tags off my rain boots and chose an outfit that matched them to wear to church. So in the long, gloomy, rainy days of Northwest fall, winter and spring – how do we stay positive? I hate positive thinking. It‘s a bit like lying to your face. Why should I tell my face to smile when every natural instinct says cry or scream? Even Job said, ―If I change my expression and smile, I still dread all my suffering.‖ (Job 9:27) See? Even good ol‘ Job thought positive thinking was a hoax. When those health and wealth gurus tell me to slap on a smile, I just want to slap theirs off! A permanent smile is just downright creepy – look at the Batman movies…the Joker never loses his smile, but who wants HIS disposition? So what‘s the answer? Do we walk around at the whim of our circumstance-blown emotions? That would be tragic indeed. To feel the true joy for which we were created, our attitudes, ambition and purpose must be centered on a far more stable Truth and Source. The writer of Genesis realized it and revealed it in the story of Joseph…

Gen. 39:1-2 – "Now Joseph had been taken down to Egypt. Potiphar, an Egyptian who was one of Pharaoh's officials, the captain of the guard, bought him from the Ishmaelites who had taken him there. The LORD was with Joseph and he prospered, and he lived in the house of his Egyptian master." (emphasis added)
  • How could Joseph "prosper" as a slave? Seriously. He had been the favored son of a wealthy nomadic tribal chief. He could have looked at Potiphar's villa and power and been envious. Instead, Joseph focused on the one stable Source of his contentment – Yahweh, the LORD, who was WITH him in Canaan or in Egypt. God's presence became Joseph's prosperity, not the hope of material gain or a manufactured feel-good emotion. God WITH him – WITH you. Emmanuel.
Gen. 39:3-4 – "When his master saw that the LORD was with him and that the LORD gave him success in everything he did, Joseph found favor in his eyes and became his attendant. Potiphar put him in charge of his household, and he entrusted to his care everything he owned." (emphasis added)
  • How did Potiphar know Joseph was a follower of Yahweh? Either Joseph spoke of God or he wore something that defined him as a follower of Yahweh. People recognize us as followers of Christ in the same ways – either we tell them, or we give them some outward clue as to our inward condition. But notice that Potiphar realized more than just Joseph's allegiance to the Hebrew God. The master understood that Joseph's success came from Above, that it wasn't just the slave's natural talent that prospered his household. At some crucial point, Joseph found ways to give God the glory for every good gift that came to his master's house.
Gen. 39:5-6 – "From the time [Potiphar] put [Joseph] in charge of his household and of all that he owned, the LORD blessed the household of the Egyptian because of Joseph. The blessing of the LORD was on everything Potiphar had, both in the house and in the field. So he left in Joseph's care everything he had; with Joseph in charge, he did not concern himself with anything except the food he ate." (emphasis added)
  • The blessing of God's presence was passed from faithful Joseph to his observant master. Joseph's faith amplified God's faithfulness, making Potiphar the beneficiary of God's blessing. God wasn't faithful BECAUSE Joseph delighted in His presence, but Joseph's delight in God's presence certainly opened the door of God's blessing to Potiphar. Those who know us best quickly recognize a fake smile; but an authentic smile, from a heart content in Christ, is a blessing to the smiler and to the smile-watcher.
Lord, I have been pretty good at faking a smile for most of my life – and I'm tired of it. I see now that I can experience a true and abiding joy, based on the reality of Your presence. You are WITH me, wherever I am, in whatever circumstance I find myself. For that reason alone, my smile never has to lie again.

No comments: