“But God was with Joseph and showed him steadfast love; God gave him favor in the sight of the chief jailer. The chief jailer committed to Joseph’s care all the prisoners who were in the prison, and whatever was done there, he was the one who did it. The chief jailer paid no heed to anything that was in Joseph’s care. . .” Genesis 39:21-23a, NRSV, adapted
Here is Joseph, in jail unjustly, and does he whine? Does he complain? Does he behave in a difficult manner? Does he sulk? Does he fume? We aren’t told of anything like that. We are told that he was the model prisoner. And the jailer entrusted to Joseph the care of the other prisoners. Even in jail, Joseph is responsible, reliable, and compassionate. He can be trusted.
We are told that this is so because God is with Joseph. God showed Joseph steadfast love. That enabled Joseph to accept his circumstances with equanimity and to wait patiently for whatever would come next. Not only does Joseph accept being in jail when he was framed but he helps the others who are there. He finds a way to serve.
God’s love is always with each and every one of us whether or not we can see it. And that love seeks expression. Whatever our circumstances, whatever misfortune befalls us, there is always some way that we can express the love of God. There is always a way for the love of God to flow through us. There is always a need that we can respond to with God’s love. Evidently, the way the story is told, God needed Joseph in that prison. He shouldn’t be there. He is there unjustly. But since he is there, God can use him.
And that service not only ministers to the prisoners and to the jailer, but it sustains Joseph. He is needed. He has a purpose. He can help the other prisoners. He can exercise his power, limited though it may be. This gives him dignity. This helps to prevent his spiraling into self pity. This gives him constructive purpose. This reinforces his self worth. Helping the jailer and serving the other prisoners gets Joseph through the dark days of his unjust imprisonment.
When we are going through dark days, this is a time to think about how we can shine the light of God for someone else. That helps the other person, and it will help us.
Divine love continuously seeks to sustain us. May we accept that love by sharing it where it is needed. Amen.