Joseph was a victim of human trafficking who survived overwhelming adverse circumstances. The amazing thing is Joseph has left you and me a legacy of hope.
Perhaps you have suffered the pain of loneliness and faced the stigma as others exhorted you to just snap out of it. Today, loneliness is recognized as an insidious global epidemic creating a tsunami of anxiety, isolation, helplessness, and ill-health.
We have learned loneliness is a state of mind of being alienated, rising from real or perceived feelings of isolation. Engulfed by this painful emotion, Joseph clung to his identity as the beloved son of his father and the truth of God’s revealed plan he would one day attain a position of leadership.
Joseph demonstrates it is possible to overcome loneliness and thrive, even when everything goes wrong.
Heroes of the Faith Faced Loneliness
Joseph was the 11th son of Jacob. At 17, in a fit of jealous rage, his elder brothers knocked him to the ground, ripped his special tunic off him, and threw him into a pit. Later, when they lifted him out, his relief turned to terror as he learned they were selling him to Midianites.
You may find it hard to believe, but they watched their little brother be shackled and driven away as if he was an animal.
At the Egyptian slave block, Joseph faced further humiliation, loneliness, and fear as he began life as a slave. Surrounded by strangers speaking a different language, he had nowhere to turn for sympathy or companionship.
Easing a scrap of blanket between the cold shackle and his ankle, he huddled in the corner of the shed. Waves of loneliness swept over him as he thought about his father, his family, his home.
“Will I ever see them again? Will I ever be free again? Or am I destined to walk with my head bowed in shame? Just a nameless slave, forced to do whatever filthy job comes my way?”
Joseph Learned He Wasn’t Alone
In the dark of the night, Joseph sobbed, then in anguish, he cried out to the God of his grandfather and his father. “God, help me.”
He sensed a quieting of his heart and made a declaration. “These bonds of slavery don’t define me. I am not a slave. I am the deeply loved son of my father. Lord Jehovah, you gave me dreams telling me I would stand in a position of glory because you knew what would happen.
You see me; I am not alone. Oh Lord, I feel so very alone, but I will trust and not be afraid. You did not leave me in the pit. You will not leave me in slavery, for you have a purpose and a good plan for my life. I am afraid, Lord, please help me trust you.”
As Joseph clung to the truth, despite being a slave, he worshiped the Lord and worked with excellence. God blessed him and blessed everything Joseph touched.
The problem is, suddenly everything went south. Fresh adversity hit because he refused to sleep with Potiphar’s wife. She lied about him, and he was thrown into the dungeon. Even there, in the darkest moment of his life, he refused to believe he was a failure or that God was not good.
Instead, Joseph chose to be content and never let his spirit be ruled by lies or hatred.
Joseph made the will-choice to be content and never let his spirit be ruled by lies or hatred.
How did he do that? Joseph refused to embrace loneliness as his identity but clung to God’s promises and to his identity as a beloved son.
Because he faithfully clung to the truth and recognized slavery was temporary – a stage to prepare him for leadership – he grew strong and wise. In adversity, he learned to listen and trust his God.
Four Things to Do When You Feel Lonely
I hear you asking, “How is Joseph’s life relevant to me?”
If you’ve experienced betrayal or violence, alienation or isolation, you too will struggle with loneliness. But loneliness is a temporary state – not an identity – so you don’t have to accept loneliness as your reality.
Step 1. You are never alone. Even as Joseph was not alone, the Lord is with you. Cling to the truth: although you feel alone, feelings do not predicate or determine reality. God gave you the authority to choose whose voice you listen to and what will be your reality. Jesus promises, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Heb 13:5b).
Step 2. Joseph called to the Lord for help. The Lord says, “Call on me in a day of trouble; I will rescue you, and you will honor me” (Psa 50:15 CSB).
Step 3. Joseph clung to his true identity as the son of his father. His dad gave him a beautiful many-colored coat. If you know Jesus as your Saviour, then you are the beloved son of the Heavenly Father. That is your true identity. You are not a failure, a slave, what happened to you, or a diagnosis.
As proof you are His adopted son, God has given you a wonderful inheritance. “And because you are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father” (Gal 4:6).
Step 4. Joseph reviewed the truths God gave him when he walked in the light and refused to accept loneliness as his reality. As a slave, he recalled to mind the promises of God. There in the dark, his focus was not on his circumstances but on the faithfulness of God. With hope, he looked forward to the day the Lord would deliver him.
Find a New Identity
Joseph, a man of integrity and wisdom, refused to accept loneliness as his destiny or his identity. He became one of the greatest leaders the world has ever known. Facing isolation, abuse, and alienation, he placed his trust in God and learned to be content where he was.
Even when it was difficult, Joseph spoke the truth. John 1:12 says God gave the right to all who receive Jesus as Saviour to become His beloved children. You are not alone, for Jesus is with you. You are not a slave. You are His beloved son.
Stand in your true identity as His beloved child. Ask Jesus to help you not allow feelings of loneliness to determine your identity or your reality. Please know God has a good plan for your life because He loves you.