Loneliness had begun to be the banner that hung over me for years. Instead of clinging to God, allowing Him to fill my time, thoughts and surroundings, I kept myself busy with tasks. Sometimes I defined those tasks as ministry, but because I wasn’t allowing God to fill me, as life got bumpy, so did my attitude. And that, was a recipe for disaster.
Reflect: Genesis 37-40 Joseph, son of Jacob is placed in a forced wilderness
Now Jacob lived in the land where his father had sojourned, in the land of Canaan. 2 These are the records of the generations of Jacob. Joseph, when seventeen years of age, was pasturing the flock with his brothers while he was still a youth, along with the sons of Bilhah and the sons of Zilpah, his father’s wives. And Joseph brought back a bad report about them to their father. 3 Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his sons, because he was the son of his old age; and he made him a varicolored tunic. 4 His brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers; and so they hated him and could not speak to him on friendly terms. 5 Then Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers, they hated him even more. 6 He said to them, “Please listen to this dream which I have had; 7 for behold, we were binding sheaves in the field, and lo, my sheaf rose up and also stood erect; and behold, your sheaves gathered around and bowed down to my sheaf.” 8 Then his brothers said to him, “Are you actually going to reign over us? Or are you really going to rule over us?” So they hated him even more for his dreams and for his words.
v 3-4 Now Israel (or Jacob) loved Joseph more than all his sons…His brothers saw that their father loved him more…so they hated him. Do you think Joseph might have been lonely?
I wonder if part of the reason Joseph told his family about the dreams he was having was so to tell his family he had value too. Of course, when we are lonely and we say things with a wounded heart people don’t always hear us clearly.
By Genesis 37:28 we see the results of the stewing jealousy of Joseph’s brothers “28 Then some Midianite traders passed by, so they pulled him up and lifted Joseph out of the pit, and sold him to the Ishmaelites for twenty shekels of silver. Thus they brought Joseph into Egypt.” Joseph’s journey into wilderness was taking a dive he didn’t see coming and loneliness was taking on a whole new definition.
Genesis 39 reveals to us that Joseph chose to honor God through his word and actions whether a slave to Potiphar or in prison.
By chapter 40 I’m usually feeling pretty terrible for Joseph. I’ve pondered repeatedly was it really necessary for Joseph to suffer for so long?
Record: Think of a time when you were lonely.
Have you ever acted poorly out of a response to loneliness?
Why do you think Joseph’s slavery lasted as long as it did?
As you read these chapters what do you hear God highlighting for you?
Review: The title of this post is the invitation of wilderness. That might seem odd considering Joseph was attacked and sold into slavery. It seems that his wilderness was not something he accepted an invitation into.
When I think about the life circumstances that surrounded the depths of my loneliest season it’s clear now that God was pursuing me like crazy. I did not choose my move to the cornfields, it was an opportunity for my husband to move up the coaching ladder that instigated our arrival in southern Illinois.
In my youth I couldn’t understand why people who called themselves Christians could be so unwelcoming. In reality, having lived my entire life in the suburbs of Chicago I was yet to realize how culturally different my new surroundings were, and how much maturing I needed personally.
God didn’t cause my heart to ache, His desire was to carry me through my need to mature and to use that time to create new depth in my relationship with Him. God was revealing to me that He would always be around and that He would always be enough. I needed to see myself through His eyes instead of the members in my new community.
In hindsight I believe this time of life was the beginnings of a wilderness season. Although I was not yet into the depths of the desert, isolation built the path that lead one way, the way that would eventually cause me to wonder if God even existed, and regardless, if I still wanted to follow Him.