January 30th Devotion

Protected by His Presence – Alistair Begg

The Lord was with Joseph, and he became a successful man. Genesis 39:2

There’s no better place to serve God than the place in which He sets you. There is no flawless job, no faultless family, no set of circumstances free of troubles. Those of us who constantly search for the ideal life, forgetting that perfection is saved for heaven, set ourselves on a journey that will be marked by frequent disappointment.

It is an understatement to say that the conditions Joseph experienced were less than ideal. After beginning his life as the object of his father’s special love, he found himself the object of slave traders’ dealings. The security of his family home was replaced with the shackles of enslavement.

Like Joseph, we all see our circumstances change over time. We may move away from our longtime home, our loved ones may face turmoil, or financial hardship or health problems may strike unexpectedly. Few of us, though, will have experienced such a precipitous collapse as Joseph. (And if you have, how encouraging to know that Scripture includes the stories of God’s intervention in the lives of people like you!) We might think that Joseph had every reason to run away, to hide, to give up, to become antagonistic—and yet God’s presence brought him through each valley.

Joseph wasn’t protected from his circumstances; he was protected in his circumstances. He was protected by the presence of God. There’s a lesson in this for us. It’s never the believer’s resilience, knowledge, or wisdom that guards him or her. Rather, the servant of God is protected by God’s very presence. It’s natural for us to ask God to change our situations, to take away great difficulties, or to remove us from trials. We look at our surroundings and think, “I never bargained for this!” We start to believe the lie that everything will be ok if we can just get away or if our problems are just taken away. But the fact of the matter is that no matter where we go, problems will come and perfection will be elusive this side of heaven. Our only true refuge, as the psalmist says, is in the Lord (Psalm 11:1).

God could have arranged Joseph’s life differently. Instead, He chose to allow events to unfold as they did. He purposed that it would be “through many dangers, toils and snares” that He would bring His servant. The Lord was with Joseph, no less as he walked in the slave train and sat at the slave market than when he rose to respect and prominence in his master’s household. And the Lord’s presence is with us too. Indeed, He has promised us, “I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20)—through the valleys as well as on the mountaintops. In what situation has God set you today? And how will knowing He is with you there, and has good work for you to do there, change your view of both the circumstances you would have chosen and those you certainly would not?
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