As busy, late running, coffee pounding commuters, construction detours are the biggest nuisance in our day. We are already driving eight to ten miles per hour over the speed limit, constantly scanning for cops because we didn’t wake up early enough to account for the extra traffic and child demands that morning, and guess what? Construction has begun on 131, and now we’re in a detour.
It seems that when God puts us on a detour, it comes at the worst time; much like summer construction. But, much like the detour for summer construction, without it, the road doesn’t get fixed.
Nobody understands a detour like Joseph. Joseph was the most loved and pampered son in his father’s house. Joseph was given the best gifts and jobs, as well as a gift to interpret dreams. It appeared, early on, that Joseph had it all lined up and didn’t have a need for a construction detour; but God had other plans. Little did Joseph know that his detour would change the course of not only him and his family, but an entire nation.
Joseph was stripped, thrown into a hole and sold into slavery by his own brothers. Joseph went from having the whole world at his fingertips, to being nothing but a slave owned by the Ishmaelites; what an embarrassment.
But the Bible says that “The LORD was with Joseph, and he became a successful man, and he was in the house of his Egyptian master” (Gen. 39:2). You see, in the pit of slavery, the LORD was with Joseph. He was purchased by Pharaoh, and because Potiphar saw that the LORD was with Joseph, Potiphar made him his personal assistant.
The story continues through a series of ups and downs for Joseph. Joseph was falsely accused of sleeping with Potiphar’s wife and thrown into jail. But even in jail, “The LORD was with Joseph and showed him steadfast love and gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison” (Gen. 39:21). Once again Joseph found himself in charge because of God’s faithfulness through the detour.
Joseph then interprets multiple dreams by the power of God and Pharaoh named him leader over his entire house and the entire land of Egypt. This sets the stage for Joseph’s greatest lesson yet.
After a severe famine spread over the land, Jacob was forced to send his sons (Joseph’s brothers who sold him off) to Egypt to purchase grain. Joseph, while keeping his identity hidden, rejected his brothers, treating them like spies, and made them go back home and return with their youngest brother Benjamin. Upon their arrival back to Egypt with Benjamin, Joseph set up a dinner party with them. I can only imagine the overflow of emotion that Joseph felt at this point.
After dinner, Joseph could no longer contain himself and revealed his identity to his brothers. Joseph wept before them and reconciled. You see, Joseph had learned something about God’s providence through his detour. “And now do not be distressed or angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life” (Gen. 45:5). Joseph learned that God was ultimately sovereign over his detour, even when things didn’t make sense to him.
After Jacob died, Joseph’s brothers were afraid that Joseph would have his revenge against them for the evil that they did to him (Gen. 50:15), but Joseph, being wholly submitted to the sovereign will of God, replied with one of the most powerful statements for us in the midst of our detours, “But Joseph said to them, ‘Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good,’” (Gen. 50:20a).
How do you look at your past, present and future detours? Do you see them as God-designed circumstances meant for your good? Or do you see them as random, uncontrolled events without purpose? No matter where God takes you, in the path of obedience, He is with you. He will be your comfort in the pit. He will be your strength in your slavery. He will be your joy in the prison. He will be your good, good Father, even when all seems lost.