Joe was one of my best friends during my college years. He was a few years older than me. Our friendship didn’t begin until after he graduated, but as a high school freshman, I looked up to him when he was a senior. Joe came to faith in Christ after he graduated, which was the beginning of our friendship; we were part of the same church. He stood up at my wedding, and I at his.
People loved Joe. They admired him. Joe was magnetic. Talented. Fun. Popular. Good at almost everything he set his hand to. When I read about Joseph in Genesis, I think of Joe. Here is a guy who just seemed to fall backward into blessing and favor. But then came his suffering. My friend Joe’s suffering was not being sold into slavery. His suffering was a cancer that took his life.
But what I saw in Joe, I also see in the story of Joseph—that even in the darkest, hardest times, the Lord was near. My friend’s last days showed a man who knew, loved, trusted, and rested in his Lord.
Joseph in Genesis lives an incredibly complicated story of suffering and triumph, of landing on rock bottom only to rise to the top, of being cut off from his family to one day saving their lives. He had all these negative things going on: situations beyond his control, servitude he could not walk away from, people falsely accusing him of crimes that could cost him his life.
I can only imagine what it would have been like living in Potiphar’s house. Joseph was there because he was sold into slavery. He was in a low position, but he rose from his lowly station to a place of prominence as a slave. But then he was brought low again, handed over to die by Potiphar’s lying seductress of a wife. In prison, he rose again as perhaps the only man who could bring peace to a Pharaoh tormented by dreams.
This roller coaster of a life would have broken most. Why didn’t it break Joseph? Because the Lord showed him kindness. The circumstances beyond his control did not dictate Joseph’s standing where it counted. The Lord was with him.
When I think about my friend Joe fading under the power of cancer, there was still light in him that was never extinguished. The Lord was with him. The Lord showed him kindness.
How does any of this apply to us? When our faith is in Christ, the truest thing we can say about our proximity to God in any and every circumstance is that the Lord is with us. He shows us His kindness. How? He gives us His Holy Spirit. In the prison cells and chemo chairs and in the courts of false accusation, this is true: the Lord is with His people—sustaining us unto eternal life, come what may in this one.
Written by Russ Ramsey