“But the Lord was with Joseph and extended kindness to him. He granted him favor with the prison warden.” — Genesis 39:21.

Every time I read Joseph's story it brings me hope. Joseph had it rough, to put it mildly. He was given a dream and the ones he loved most rejected it most. He was thrown into a well to die by his brothers, then removed from the well and sold into slavery because it seemed more cost-effective. He was lied about and imprisoned, all of which sound incredibly hopeless, am I right?

For most of us, we wouldn't have lasted a day, but Joseph understood something you and I sometimes fail to understand. Joseph understood just because things seemed hopeless, didn't mean they were hopeless. God had given him a dream and he trusted God's process. Joseph believed God was with him even in the worst places along his journey.

A few years after our move to Stockton from southeast Missouri, I really began to struggle with the place God had brought me. God was speaking to me about some things, sharing some direction with me, whispering some dreams to my heart, and I felt stuck. I felt a little like Joseph. I believed the place I was in made it impossible for me to bloom in what God was calling me to do. But I am since discovering God is with me, right here in Stockton and my place doesn't determine my purpose.  

Joseph's brothers did everything they could to get rid of their brother and his ridiculous dream, but God was with him. Potiphar's wife did the same, but even in prison, we read God was with Joseph. Knowing this gives me hope. Knowing this gives me the courage to bloom where I'm planted. I don't have to understand how it will all work out, and you don't have to know how God can use you where you're at, but you need to believe it.

Joseph's unfortunate events should have caused him to give up on God, on his dream, on everything, but instead we saw him flourish in every lousy situation. From a well that should have killed him he was sold into slavery; from slavery he became Potiphar's personal attendant and was highly favored and prosperous; from Potiphar's kindness, he was lied about by Potiphar's wife and thrown into prison, but God was still with him. Joseph gained favor in prison and was put in charge of all the prisoners, and from prison Joseph was exalted above everyone and eventually became second to Pharaoh. It was through Joseph’s position in Egypt his dream was made a reality.

I've often wondered if God had laid out every step Joseph would have to take to see his dream come to pass, would he have stayed the course or ran for the hills? I would've likely done the latter, and that's why I believe God gives us the vision and one step at a time. If we knew ahead of time all the places we had to visit along the way, would we still want all the things God has for us? But what if along the way, we believed even this place has meaning and is somehow leading us toward something far greater?

God was perfectly orchestrating Joseph's life, and he knew how to bloom where he was planted. You and I need to learn to bloom where we are planted. Our place doesn't determine our purpose, but it can definitely lead us to it. So, what are you going to do in this place? How are you going to respond to where you are?

Downs serves as a young adult/college leader at her church with her husband. She writes faith-based columns in southern Missouri newspapers.

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