A few weeks ago at church, the message was on Joseph. Who had it pretty rough for a good chunk of his life. You know, what with being betrayed by his family followed by slavery and wrong imprisonment and such.
In Genesis 39, the following phrase is found FOUR times: “the Lord was with him/Joseph”. (verses 2, 3, 21, and 23) Four times that’s stated! And it’s said that because “the Lord was with” him Joseph prospered, the Lord gave him success, and he was viewed favorably by those who were in positions of power over him.
It’s noteable, though, that all of chapter 39 happened while Joseph was a slave or a prisoner – long before he was second-in-command of Egypt.
Our pastor called our attention to this phrase. Apparently “with” can also be translated as “against”. Not in the adversarial way, but more like physical proximity. Like a door against a door frame. So when Joseph was going through these tough times, it’s like God was there leaning against him or propping him up.
And I thought of my prayer life. People will tell me prayer requests and I rarely know exactly what to pray. It makes me grateful that Paul writes in Romans,
In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.
Rather than audibly groan, the phrase that I find myself praying most often is, “Lord, please be with [person].” All. the. time. If the Lord lays you on my heart or if you tell me that you need prayer, that is probably the phrase that I am going to pray. Not as a cop out, but sometimes I just don’t know how to express what I feel in my heart so I end up honestly and earnestly just asking God to be with you. To be present. To comfort you. To support you. To lean against you.
And here I finally notice that phrase being used in the Bible! I never put the two together before. I did a search and, in the NIV, the phrase “the Lord was with” shows up 17 times. And in each situation or in each person’s life, God accomplished amazing things.
This week, one of my friends was asking us to pray for a difficult situation that her sister is in. And she confessed she didn’t know exactly what to pray, but that it weighed heavy on her heart. “With.”
Of course, I’d love it if every time I had a problem God would snap His divine fingers and fix it. Sometimes He does. But I also realize that God can use all of the tough things I go through for a great purpose to strengthen me, teach me, show His glory, or help others – even though in the moment I can’t possibly see how.
So, really, there’s nothing more that I could possibly desire for than for God to be WITH me through my triumphs and trials, right beside and AGAINST me as supporter, comforter, friend, and sovereign Lord.