There aren’t many things more frustrating than being blamed for something you didn’t do, but one of the things on that list is what happened to Joseph. He wasn’t just accused but was also imprisoned for something he didn’t do. From the highest point in Potiphar’s house, Joseph was thrown into prison, but even then, Joseph trusted that God was faithful. Who would have blamed Joseph for doubting at this point? Who would have been surprised if Joseph looked around at his circumstances and decided that God had let him down? Anybody?
And yet, Joseph shows remarkable perseverance that can only be attributed to one thing–God was with him. God with Joseph meant that he faced temptation with integrity, and now we see that God with Joseph meant that he faced a desperate situation with unshakable hope. Joseph, having many reasons to be troubled and downcast, notices the trouble of the cupbearer and the baker. Joseph, in a moment when many would question God’s faithfulness, is found declaring God’s faithfulness, “Do not interpretations belong to God?”
Joseph trusted that God had not forgotten him, even when the cupbearer did just that, so that years later when he finally remembered him, Joseph still says to Pharaoh, “It is not in me; God will give Pharaoh a favorable answer.” Looking back on a life that would have led many people into bitterness, Joseph confesses his total dependence upon God. After a life that would have led many people into doubt, Joseph confesses unwavering faith in God. Joseph was even able to name his sons Manasseh and Ephraim because God made him forget all of his hardship and his father’s house, and God made him fruitful in the land of his affliction.
Those names don’t mean that Joseph was in denial about the trouble he faced or that he was ignoring the difficulties around him. They meant that Joseph came to understand that God was at work even when he couldn’t see how. Joseph’s story doesn’t call us to ignore our troubles or to pretend everything is okay even when it isn’t. Joseph’s story calls us to recognize that we are totally dependent upon God, whether our circumstances resemble the lowest prison or the highest palace.