When Faithfulness Puts You in Prison

July 25, 2022

“Joseph’s master took him and put him in prison, the place where the king’s prisoners were confined.”  Genesis 39:20

Sometimes, we might pay a price for remaining faithful to the Lord. 

Just ask Joseph.

As a slave in Potiphar’s house, Joseph worked hard and utilized his shrewd administrative skills to increase Potiphar’s prosperity. We are told, “The Lord blessed the household of the Egyptian because of Joseph” (Genesis 39:5). That’s quite a compliment.  

There was just one, small problem:  Joseph was handsome. Too handsome. As in, “H-O-T.” 

(That’s not an exact translation of the Hebrew, but you get the idea.)   

Potiphar’s wife relentlessly pursued him, tempting him with every seductive trick in the book. (Remember- Joseph was likely in his early twenties during her sexual advances when many men had trouble controlling their hormones.) 

Yet, he never caved.

Not. Even. Once.  

 Life had dealt him a bad hand. His brothers had thrown him into a pit for crying out loud.  

But Joseph absolutely refused to sleep with her and “do such a wicked thing, sinning against God” (Genesis 39:9).  

One afternoon, taking advantage of an empty house, Mrs. Potiphar threw herself at him. As Joseph escaped, she grabbed his robe and used it to falsely accuse him of sexual assault, and then he was thrown into a cold, dark dungeon. 

So much for doing the right thing and obeying God, huh?

How would you feel if you were Joseph?

Angry? Scared? Like God was treating you unfairly? 

We think the Lord will reward our faithfulness with smooth sailing and exempt us from major difficulties.     

But Scripture is filled with examples of people who, like Joseph, were faithful to God and still found themselves in dismal situations. In fact, life often became harder, not easier. Worse, not better.  

Consider the following

  • Moses – after telling Pharaoh to let the Israelites go, the Egyptians made the work even more demanding (Exodus 5:9). 
  • Jeremiah – thrown in an empty cistern (Jeremiah 38:6). 
  • John – exiled to the island of Patmos (Revelation 1:9).

And is there any greater example than Jesus? He was completely obedient, never yielding to temptation His entire life. He was perfectly faithful to His Father’s will yet His faithfulness led Him to Calvary. But the cross was not the end for Jesus! 

So, if your faithfulness to the Lord has led you into adversity, you’re in good company.  Joseph, Jesus, and many others – know how you feel.   

Pastor and author, Tony Evans, puts it this way, “the most critical test you will ever face is the test for suffering when you did nothing wrong. When you do exactly what God has told you to do and have to pay a price tag, you are paying a penalty for righteousness’ sake. You are on an intended detour that will test and strengthen your character and resolve if you let it.”  

Remember, the prison was not the end for Joseph. It was merely a pit stop in the Lord’s sovereign plan to get him exactly where He wanted him to go: Pharaoh’s palace. 

As the “Lord was with Joseph” in prison, He is still with you (Genesis 39:21).     

You can trust Him. 

And though it may appear to the contrary, He really does know what He’s doing.   

Written by Jonathan Munson, Executive Director, RFTH

*You can read this portion of Joseph’s story in Genesis 39:1-23.