We tend to define our life based on our perception of our progress. Am I where I thought I would be at this age? Have I achieved what I thought I would? Are my dreams more or less real today? Am I happy in my marriage, my family, my position at work? Is my life successful? In reality, life is never defined by our performance or circumstances. What really makes any life worth living today is the presence and protection and pleasure of the almighty, all-satisfying God.
After being sold into slavery by his own brothers, Joseph surprisingly rose to power in perhaps the most powerful empire in the world.
"The LORD was with Joseph, and he became a successful man, and he was in the house of his Egyptian master. His master saw that the LORD was with him and that the LORD caused all that he did to succeed in his hands. So Joseph found favor in his sight and attended him, and he made him overseer of his house and put him in charge of all that he had." (Genesis 39:2–4)
Potiphar put Joseph in charge of everything. But Potiphar's wife lusted after Joseph and tried to seduce him. When he faithfully refused her advances, she framed him, claiming he had come to her. Her lies ripped him from all his power and responsibility and landed him in prison (Genesis 39:20). He committed no sin (at least not with Potiphar’s wife), neither was deceit found in his mouth, and yet he was treated as worse than a slave, locked away without hope of release.
"But the LORD was with Joseph and showed him steadfast love and gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison. And the keeper of the prison put Joseph in charge of all the prisoners who were in the prison. . . . And whatever he did, the LORD made it succeed." (Genesis 39:21–23)
Whether in power or in prison, Joseph's life was hope-filled, meaningful, and successful, not because he worked so hard or received what he deserved, but because God was with him. The Lord was with him in success — and the Lord was with him in prison.