How many times have we heard the saying ‘this is the pits’. What does that really mean? I would say for me, ‘the pits’ means something like this situation isn’t fun, I don’t like this situation, make it stop, I want off this ride. Discovering the blessing of the pit is the challenge.
Some of the most difficult situations can be when we are in the pit. I personally work really hard at staying on top of things. I watch way up ahead for pitfalls. I am a stickler for organizing, planning, and ‘controlling’ what I can so that my outcome is good. I do all that I can to make sure that my arrival at my destination is smooth and without pitfalls, dangers, or problems that can be avoided (albeit, I know they will come!).
So this brings me to look at Joseph, the son of Jacob. Joseph was in a pit (Genesis 37). His brother’s wanted to kill him because they were jealous of him. They were angry with him over the dream that he had and its interpretation – the stalks were going to bow down to him. They were the stalks. Out of his control and of no fault of his own, Joseph was in the pit awaiting his death; to be murdered by his very own brothers.
Joseph was a faithful child. His father directed him to go and find his brothers out in the field. He did as his father had asked of him. He was simply following his father’s orders.
As he waited in the pit, probably scared, confused and even panicking a little bit, he most likely was hearing the brothers up above planning his demise. He had to be thinking ‘how did I get here? What did I do to deserve this? God, where are you?
So the original plan was to go and talk to his brothers and come back home that same day. His quick journey for the day ended in a pit instead. It didn’t look like things were going to turn around.
As the brothers planned his murder and its subsequent cover-up, unbeknownst to everyone involved, a new direction was up ahead for Joseph. A band of gypsy’s approached the scene giving the brothers another idea that would remove the ‘sting’ of their guilt by not murdering their brother. By selling him off into slavery at the hands of the gypsies in place of murder, they would rid themselves of their brother, and rid themselves of their participation in a murder. Therefore, Joseph was no longer on the road marked for death in the pit, but a new, unplanned direction nevertheless.
Joseph’s day started out just fine, out in the field. That day then turned pretty ugly when he found himself cast down into the pit. Then he was brought out of the pit, by Gypsies none the less, and things started looking better than dying in a giant hole in the ground. As Joseph’s story goes on, however, it becomes obvious that circumstances were up and down more than once in his life. Innocent yet falsely accused. Favored, then imprisoned. He would keep finding himself back in the pit. Did he despair? Was he sure that he would get back out of the pit again? These pit episodes were not his fault, and they were all out of his (Joseph’s) control. The good news is that they are not out of His (God’s) control.
So many times we have those days, weeks, months, and maybe even years, where it seems like we can’t catch a break or even a breath. We are going along fine, life is good, and we are blessed. Then it happens….the struggle, the pain, the heartbreak, the brokenness. We are in the pit. Doubt, fear and despair set in. We didn’t plan it, didn’t see it coming, and definitely didn’t deserve it.
When re-thinking the story of Joseph, it hit me….the pit that he found himself in at the hands of his brothers was actually the thing that protected him from immediate death! He could have just as quickly been murdered by his brothers and that would be the end of the story. But they threw him in the pit as they discussed how to make it look like an animal had gotten a hold of him and killed him. Their sin manifested in time spent creating a lie, which was used by God to provide Joseph’s salvation. The pit was where he was placed by God to be set apart for God’s perfect timing. The Gypsies would be passing by to provide another way for the story to advance. No surprise to God!
In our human nature, it is all too easy to look at the pit as just that – a pit. A place that is scary, dark, and deep with seemingly no way out. We are placed in that very pit, however, many times for our own protection. Whether it is a true physical protection, or a place of training, purifying and refining for our own growth, God uses those pits to draw us closer to Him. He wants us to know Him well – to trust Him fully – to follow Him completely.
There is always a plan. God doesn’t randomly throw us into pits. He places us there, or allows us to be placed there for a purpose that will ultimately glorify Him. He knows the number of hairs on our head. He knows what direction we might have gone, or what could have transpired if it weren’t for the pit. He knows the place that He wants us to be and many times we can only be brought to that place because of the pit.
Each time in life when you find yourself in another pit, remember Who has allowed you to be there and trust Him with the why. Most often you will find that once He raises you back up out of the pit, which He is faithful to do if you will let Him, awesome things happen. Although most likely you would never have volunteered to go into the pit on your own, you will be forever grateful to Him for the gifts you were given while in the pit as well as the ones you receive once you get pulled back out! Remember that Phil. 1:6 says, “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” That is our Hope when we find ourselves in the pit!