I have a friend that’s committed to serving in a local prison ministry. To hear the stories of convicted murderers, thieves and drug dealers that have committed their lives to Jesus, at the risk of their own lives is nothing less than inspiring! These men and women are, like Joseph from the book of Genesis, learning to prosper in their very own prisons. I’d like to propose that each and every one of us has our own prison, and through the power of prayer and a shift in perspective, we can learn to prosper in it as well.
When we set out to start Convergence Community Church, I made a commitment to God. I said,
“Okay God, if we’re not over 100 people in a year I’m done.”
At our grand opening, 6 months in, we had 109 people. The next week there were 60. But today, those 60 people are doing more for the kingdom of God than most of the larger churches I’ve been a part of in the past. We’re sending missionaries, developing worship leaders, planting churches, loving on our community and building an amazing church family. But the fact remains; it isn’t really what I had expected. But really, what do you do when things don’t turn out the way you expected them to?
You learn to prosper in your own prison!
We’ve all heard the phrase, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” There’s some real truth to that phrase.
I’m sure you’ve experienced it! We’ve all experienced it.
Your retirement isn’t what you expected it to be.Your housing situation isn’t quite what you hoped it would be.Your marriage ends in divorce.You kids don’t turn out the way you dreamed they would.Your job situation, your career, your education, etc…
Joseph experienced it. He was daddy’s favorite. He even had a dream about his ultimate success where his whole family would bow down to him and esteem him above themselves. Did you catch that? He had a dream… But I’m pretty sure that dream didn’t turn out quite the way he thought it would.
“Now Joseph had been brought down to Egypt, and Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, the captain of the guard, an Egyptian, had bought him from the Ishmaelites who had brought him down there. The Lord was with Joseph, and he became a successful man, and he was in the house of his Egyptian master. His master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord caused all that he did to succeed in his hands. So Joseph found favor in his sight and attended him, and he made him overseer of his house and put him in charge of all that he had.” Genesis 39:1-4 ESV
A slave! I’m pretty sure this was not how Joseph had envisioned his life would turn out. And yet, it’s apparent that Joseph never gave up. In fact, every day, day in and day out, he made a commitment to just show up and he learned to prosper in his prison.
In fact, did you know that Joseph’s name in Hebrew means “the Lord added”? He was the 11th son, 12th child of Jacob, but he was the first child born to Rachel. In fact, he was only one of two boys, the other being Benjamin. That’s why the reunion at the end of this story is so sweet!
Let’s get back to Gen 39. Joseph has been a slave to Potiphar and he’s showing up, fully committed and learning to prosper in his prison… and then bam!!! Potiphar’s wife comes on to him. He does his best to stay above reproach, but it does no good… he ends up in the slammer!
I’m sorry, but to me, it doesn’t seem like the Lord is with him and yet, that’s exactly what it says. And looking back from this side of the story, it’s obvious that He was. I mean, he did prosper, just not in the way he’d imagined. And the reason for his prosperity?
He did his best to give his best in whatever situation he found himself in!
He was faithful wherever he found himself. Even when he couldn’t see how it could ever end well. Even when he didn’t feel like it. Even when it didn’t seem fair.
What about you? What situation have you found yourself in that just doesn’t seem fair or right? Are you learning to prosper in your prison?
Let me encourage you to do your best to give your best in whatever situation you find yourself in.
By putting your faith in God’s plan, as crazy as it might be, I’m confident that you too can learn to prosper in your own prison. Wherever you are today, cling to this promise of God…
“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. ” Romans 8:28 ESV
In other words, if you’re a believer in Christ, you can learn to make lemonade out of lemons, and learn to prosper in your prison… even if there are only 60 people in it.