Protected by His Presence
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?
4Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. 5Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; 6do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
8Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. 9What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
10I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity. 11Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. 12I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. 13I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
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