Joseph looked up at the cruel faces of his brothers, his eyes squinting against the sunlight that streamed into the hole they had dug for him. They walked away laughing loudly and making scornful remarks. "Get out of this one, you dreamer," one brother chanted as he left. His heart pounded and sweat broke out as beads dripped down his cheeks, mingling with the tears that were already flowing.
"Surely, they wouldn't leave me" he thought. "It is just a joke," he mused. But his reverie was broken as some passerbys begin lifting him out of the dirt and mire. "Finally," Joseph thought. "You are ours now," they proclaimed vehemently, with evil and strange eyes looking down at the young lad. Clasping the money to their breast, Joseph's brothers looked back with resentment filling their eyes, as Joseph screamed at the top of his lungs imploring them to come back for him. He pleaded until he could no longer be heard. To no avail. Now Joseph was a slave in Egypt. His dreams must have all been in vain. His heart's desires would never be met now. Destined to be a slave in a foreign land, Joseph thought life held no promise, no tomorrows and no hope. Maybe you are like Joseph in this Bible story. Maybe you've been thrown into a pit of despondency and have lost all purpose and meaning in your life. Perhaps your pit was a pit of your own making. You dug a hole and jumped in. You feel you deserve unhappiness, pain and remorse. Many inflict physical pain as some sort of penitence for something they believe was terrible; therefore, now they must suffer. Psychologisst treat self-injuring people daily. Emotional pain gives birth to suffering in various ways. Cutters were nonexistent - almost - when I was growing up. Now, we hear about it as commonplace. People suffering advanced illnesses sometimes refuse pain medications in some sort of trade-off for the "bad things" they have done, in hopes of restitution of sorts. Or perhaps, your pit is the pit dug by someone you trusted to tenderly care for you, but instead they dug a pit and threw you in and now you fear you will never be whole or happy again. Lastly, possibly illness has camped at your doorstep and the pit illness has dug in deep indeed and you just need a breathe of fresh air. My friend, you are not alone. Millions of pit dwellers are amongst us. They may not look as if they are dwelling in a pit, but I am here to tell you looks are deceiving, and your situation is not nearly as unique as you may believe. And this one thing I will tell you: if God allowed you to be thrown into a pit, you weren't picked on; you were picked out. God entrusted that suffering to you because He has faith in you. Let's fast forward to the story of Joseph and take a peek at the end of the story. Joseph was taken as a slave to Egypt. He excelled at everything he put his hand to. God saw to that. A naughty woman tried to seduce him and he ran, but she lied. He ended up in prison, but excelled there too. He used his gifts, talents and faith, and worked hard. They elevated him and then he had some set backs. Did he wimp out and cry? Probably he cried, but he did not wimp out. He cried out to God and he had the resilience to bounce back from seemingly insurmountable circumstances. So can you. Joseph became the ruler in Egypt and was placed second in command. There was a famine in the land, and Joseph's father (who was told years before that Joseph was killed by an animal) sent his sons into Egypt to buy food, and lo and behold, who do you think they came face to face with? Thats right, good ol' Joe. They didn't recognize him, but after a short while he revealed himself and his forgiveness to them. They spitefully sold him into slavery and he was used to preserve their lives and the lives of all their families as well as his very own daddy. How's that for irony? They did him wrong, but he did them right. They were mean-spirited and cruel, but he was gracious and giving. He was thrown into a pit, but God allowed his adversity to pull him out of the pit and into a life of usefulness and a then into the grand finale of not only being reunited with his brothers, father, and family, but also preserving their lives from starvation. Could it possibly be that the pit you are in today is the elevator to usefulness tomorrow?
I heard a story about a donkey many years ago. The donkey became old and useless to the farmer. He wanted rid of him, but didn't know how to "do it." He decided to dig a pit. He led the donkey to the hole and pushed. The donkey went down into the pit and the farmer began shoveling dirt into the hole. However, as the dirt fell upon the donkey he began to shake off the dirt and step on it. The more dirt that fell upon the donkey's back, the more he shook and the higher he got. Until he stepped up on the high ground and lived with the farmer for the rest of his days. How 'bout you? Are you a pit dweller? Get out of that pit! Cry out to God and refuse to look at your circumstances. Shake it off and step up to a full, happy and useful life! (For more information on this subject: read "Get out of that Pit" by Beth Moore, published by Integrity Publishers.)