Life Lessons from Joseph when Living in a Pit

Cheri Hoff Minckler
Originally published on May 29, 2020

Life Lessons from Joseph when Living in a Pit

So, when Joseph came to his brothers, they stripped him of his robe—the ornate robe he was wearing— and they took him and threw him into the cistern. The cistern was empty; there was no water in it. (Genesis 37:23-24)

Your circumstances are the conditions of your life, your state of financial or material welfare. Our circumstances can affect our mental, emotional, and physical wellbeing.

One day, Joseph found himself in rather bleak circumstances. His jealous brothers had thrown him in a pit. I’m sure when he was pulled out of the pit, his first reaction was relief—short-lived as it must have been. The next thing he knew, he was sold into slavery. Over time, he experienced a rollercoaster ride of circumstances—from slave to head of Potiphar’s household (Genesis 39), from head of household to prison, from prison to Pharaoh’s prime minister in charge of all of Egypt (Genesis 41).

From the time he was thrown into the pit by his brothers until the time he became Pharaoh’s prime minister, Joseph had absolutely no control over his circumstances. His life and times were in other’s hands.

What Joseph executed well were the management of his attitude and the reaction to his circumstances.

I would say his attitude drove his reactions. So, what was his attitude? These are the attributes I see in Joseph as he bounced from circumstance to circumstance:

Accepting-he did not complain, no matter what situation he found himself in.
Humble-he served his masters faithfully, no matter what the task.
Diligent-he applied the gifts God gave him wherever he served.
Trusting in God-this is the fundamental attitude that powered the other three.

This trust in God drove his reactions. As a result, God blessed Joseph; he not only survived; he thrived. Those in his world benefited, as well—first Potiphar, then Pharaoh and all of Egypt, and finally Joseph’s family and the nascent nation of Israel.  

Ultimately, Joseph recognized that God was in control of his circumstances, as he tells his brothers, “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today (Gen50:20).”

Amid the Covid-19 pandemic, we can look to Joseph for life lessons.

We indeed have found ourselves in an unexpected circumstance. I know my world has become much smaller, and some days at least in my mind, resembles a pit. Like Joseph, I did not put myself here, and sadly, I cannot take myself out. [Let me admit here that my pit is in a beautiful location, and physically I’m quite comfortable. At least, I’m not in a hot, barren prison cell.

Nonetheless, this is a pit for me because I miss my freedom. I miss going out when and where I want to. I miss my regular trips to Lafayette to see friends and family. I miss the little specialty items I could find in the grocery store. I miss going into the grocery store! However, I am slowly learning it does no good to rail against the Virus, and anxiety over it accomplishes absolutely nothing.

Fortunately, God is long-suffering. He’s been trying to teach me for a long time that I’m not really the one in control of my time and my life (nor should I want to be). So, if I’m smart, I’ll take a lesson from Joseph, humble myself, and accept that God is in control. Even better, I’ll trust that God has a much better plan than I can ever devise and will redeem these circumstances to use them for His good purposes.

Like Joseph, I have a part to play in that redemption. We all do. We can apply the gifts God has given us to diligently do whatever good we can do.
Hebrews 13:16 reminds us, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.”

Let’s not give in to fear or despair. Rather than looking at the pit, let’s look up to the One who is in control. And by continuing to do good, we are the instruments of God who is weaving good from what Satan means for evil.

Cheri Hoff Minckler