It might seem odd to you, but the today’s sermon for the 3rd Sunday of Advent came from Genesis 45. It was about Joseph (not the one who ended up marrying Mary and being a father to Jesus). This Joseph had to go through some trials during his lifetime. He was the first recorded victim of human trafficking in history, sold by his brothers into slavery. He wound up in Egypt, where he worked in Potiphar’s household before he was falsely accused of sexual misconduct by Potiphar’s wife, who apparently had the hots for young Joseph and got turned down. He ended up in prison for 2 years before his ability to interpret dreams got him a position of power and in a place where he could save many lives, including the lives of his father and the very brothers who sold him into slavery in the first place.
He might have been in a kind of wilderness, but the Bible says that God was with him at every point. He himself even said that what his brothers meant for evil, God turned into good. He mentioned how God allowed Joseph’s misfortunes to ultimately put him in the perfect place to save a people who would later be known as the Israelites.
Jesus knows a thing or two about a wilderness. He spent 40 days being tempted in the wilderness. He went through everything we will ever go through, yet He did it without sin. Hebrews tells us that He is a high priest who is able to sympathize with us because He shared our human experience.
If you’re in a proverbial wilderness, you can know that God is just as much with you as He was with Joseph. In fact, this may be the very means God is using to shape you and teach you and bring you to the place of total dependence and trust. You will learn some very precious truths that you will be able to share with others who will go through their own wilderness experiences.
You will learn God as Emmanuel, God with us.