Ha ha ha ha ha, ha ha ha ha ha, ha ha ha... [thunk]
Ok, moving on.
If you are familiar with the movie, then you are aware of the Pit of Despair [Don't even think. achem. Don't even think about trying to escape.] If you are not familiar with the movie, just imagine an underground dungeon run by a six fingered psychopath and his albino minion with a pretty nasty cold sore. The particulars are not important, though. In fact, as much as I love The Princess Bride, the movie doesn't matter either. It's the pit of despair that is the topic of today. That place where we can find ourselves in the dark, feeling hopeless and alone.
Now typically, there are two types of pits. First, is the pit that you dig yourself and swan-dive into on occasion by your actions and lifestyle. Sometimes we don't even bother to dig a new one, we simply uncover an old one and fall right in. This is not the type of pit I'm hoping to discuss today. The type of pit that I'm referring to is the the type, where you are legitimately headed down the right path, the path that God set in front of you, and out of nowhere [BAM!] you fall into a pit you did not see coming. It feels as though the world opened up and swallowed you whole. So, now, you're alone. In the dark. Any light you may perceive seems to be tricks and voices of encouragement seem like mockery. God is nowhere to be found and you wonder if He's abandoned you altogether.
THAT BRINGS US TO JOSEPH AND HIS TECHNICOLOR COAT
AKA LITTLE JOEY THE BRATTY LITTLE BROTHER WITH BIG DREAMS
AKA LITTLE JOEY DAD'S FAVORITE
AKA LITTLE JOEY THE JERK THAT DREAMS OF BEING IN CHARGE
When we meet up with Joseph in Genesis 37:18, he finds himself in a pit, possibly left for dead, even though he was exactly where he was supposed to be. In fact, he finds himself in the incredibly sad position of discovering that the people he trusted the most, his brothers, wanted him dead. There's a long back story here that explains how Joseph found himself in this place, but in short he was given big dreams by God and a beautiful coat by his Dad; for which his brothers despised him and were prepared to murder him.
Well, most of his brothers. After the plan was devised to kill him and throw him into a pit, Reuben, one of his older brothers, suggested that they simply leave him for dead as he intended to return and save him. Ultimately, Joseph was sold as a slave in Egypt, thrown in prison for attempted rape, then promoted to the second highest command in all of Egypt, which ultimately was the method by which God was able to preserve the nation of Israel. The End.
Just kidding, rewind back to the pit. Yesterday as I was praying for a person very near and dear to my heart who finds herself in a incredibly difficult and solitary place, I heard God speak to me:
"Sometimes the pit we perceive we're in is actually designed to protect us, preserve us and get us to where God intends us to be."
After "hearing" that, I immediately cracked open my Bible and turned to Genesis to read more about Joseph, the guy that immediately came to mind. I'd heard the story when I was small, read it a few times as an adult, but the pit never seemed to be a positive element to the story. It was a pit for goodness sake, how could it be good?
Then again, how can a person be faithfully going down the right path, and still find themselves in a pit? How can God send us down a path KNOWING there is a pit ready to swallow us up? It's really kind of confusing, until you read the story again.
"... Let's just throw him into this empty cistern here in the wilderness. Then he'll die without our laying a hand on him.' Reuben was secretly planning to rescue Joseph and return him to his father."
When read this way, the pit was likely Joseph's salvation. God can use the least likely experiences in our lives to protect us, to preserve us and to get us to where He intends us to be. It can be incredibly difficult to know that you've done all in your power and still find yourself in a pit, but can I encourage you to simply adjust your perception? That pit you perceive to be all around you? Could that pit be your salvation? Could it possibly be that God is removing you from a situation that is destructive or the He is keeping you from relationships that will stunt your growth and ultimately keep you from your true calling and purpose?
If you know that you are walking right with God and yet you feel as though you've been flung into a pit, I pray that you sense the closeness of God as He protects you and that the darkness you perceive around you is merely His covering.
Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
This I declare about the Lord:
He alone is my refuge, my place of safety;
He is my God, and I trust Him,
For He will rescue you from every trap and protect you from deadly disease.
He will cover you with His feathers:
He will shelter you with His wings.
His faithful promises are your armor and protection.
Psalm 91:1-4 (NLT)