Living the "less than ideal"

Genesis 39:2,21 "The Lord was with Joseph and blessed him greatly as he served [as a slave] in the home of his Egyptian master."  "But the Lord was with Joseph there [in an Egyptian prison], too, and he granted Joseph favor with the chief jailer."

Have you ever lived in a less than ideal place or through a less than ideal circumstance?  It's not too big a stretch for me to say that the Congo fits the bill of "less than ideal" context to live and serve in.   So much makes it so - unimaginable poverty, rampant corruption, wide spread syncretism, unreliable or quasi inexistant infrastructure.  Definitely my idea of  "less than ideal"!

Joseph lived most of his life in "less than ideal" conditions.  He was the object of unsollicited favourtism by his dad, hardly the ideal soil to grow up in or to learn how to go through life without an incapacitating sense of entitlement.  Though he might have been favourite to his father, he was least favourite with his brothers, victim of sibling rivalry and bullying gone bad; they sold their souls along with him to the first caravan of nomads passing their way.  'Out of sight, out of mind' the motto they adhered to.  Home and homeland, family and friends, customs and language all spelt "LOSS" and "less than ideal" for the young man, Joseph.  Add to the loss, the "gain" of slavery, temptations, impossible responsibilities, false accusations, hardships, imprisonment and forgottenness and it would seem that the stage was set for less than ideal results in those less than ideal life circumstances. Surely all of this "less than ideal" gave evidence that God too had all but forgotten him and abandonned him.

But that was not the case.  And that was not the way that Joseph lived all these "less than ideal" conditions.  In all and through all, somehow in the life of this young man, he lived with the reality that God was with him everywhere - in his father's home, in the pit, with the caravan, in Potiphar's palace, in prison - God was with him.  And that, in spite of sometimes dire and often "less than ideal" circumstances, God blessed him.  And he, in turn, blessed those who had hurt him most.  Joseph informs his terrified brothers, at the moment of their reunion "But don't be angry with yourselves that you did this to me, for God did it.  He sent me here ahead of you to preserve your lives...God turned into good what you meant for evil"  (Genesis 45:5; 50:20).  Son or slave, God blessed him.   Prisoner or free, God blessed.  And in the end, even within his dysfunctional family, God blessed.  This "less than ideal" became the ideal place to grow up Joseph to live his life blessed and as a blessing of God.

"Less than ideal"?  Only if I forget that God is here, with me and blessing all the way.


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