There is a phrase we see pop up a lot with regard to Joseph’s life. That phrase is, “And the LORD was with Joseph.”

Over and over we see these words. Whether Joseph was in the pit, the prison, or the palace—the Lord was with him. Not only that, but we also see God’s hand of favor with him causing whatever he touched to prosper and causing people to put things under his authority.

One thing to learn from God being with Joseph is that Joseph was also with God. In other words, Joseph did not allow the circumstances to compromise his spiritual relationship. Yes, it is easy to get mad at God when you face a trial or trouble in your life. But these are the times when you are to chase after God like you’ve never done before. These are the times when you are to draw near to Him.

When you fill a sponge full of water and then you add pressure to the sponge, water is going to flow out because it is full of water. When you are going through a trial and you feel the pressure of life caving in around you, how much of God comes out?

Or is it cussing, fussing, complaining, and blaming that comes out instead? Why are those things coming out? Because that is what you are full of.

A sponge only lets out what is in it. God was able to give Joseph favor because God was in Joseph during his trials.

This is important to know because God will do the same with and for you if you let Him. But so few people do. Most people fill themselves with entertainment, alcohol, gossip, distractions, bitterness, and things of that nature when life is not fair. But in order to have your detour take you to your destiny, you have to draw near to God. God will be near to, and in, you.

Joseph had cultivated a spiritual relationship along the way of his detours, as his priority became God. The key to making it during your season of testing is not found in your contacts, notoriety, name, or bank account. The key is found in your intimacy with the Lord. The Lord was with Joseph—and caused all that he did, no matter where he was, to prosper. There must be a spiritual relationship that drives you, particularly when life has gone left.

One of the purposes of a detour is to develop the capacity, skills, and character necessary to carry out your destiny. While Joseph was a slave in Potiphar’s home, the Lord prospered him so that he became second-in-command in Potiphar’s home. Little did he know that one day he would become second-in-command in the entire nation of Egypt. But God was preparing Joseph with the skills necessary to both follow and lead simultaneously. Joseph doesn’t yet have the details of his destiny, but his obedience as a slave gave him the opportunity to learn skills he would use later on as a ruler.

Joseph acquired experience in leadership, management, problem-solving, and more. One of the problems we have today in our culture is that people want what they want right now. But if you can’t handle where you are now, how will you handle more responsibility later? Scripture asks us in Jeremiah 12:5, “If you have raced with runners and they have worn you out, how can you compete with horses? If you stumble in a peaceful land, what will you do in the thickets of the Jordan?”

I always get a kick out of young pastors who ask me how they can get where I am now in ministry. Sometimes they have just graduated from seminary or Bible college, and they schedule a meeting with me to see if I can give them advice so that they might also gain a megachurch of our size or impact. I usually lean back in my chair, smile, and then say something similar to, “Go preach in a prison.”

Without exception a look of, “You are kidding me, right?” comes over their faces. But it’s the truth. It’s the best advice I can give them. I didn’t start out with a ten-thousand-member church or my messages being broadcast in two hundred countries and all over the United States. I started out on top of the bed of a pickup truck with no microphone, simply yelling as loud as I could to whoever was around. I started out on the corner where buses would come to pick up passengers, preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ (the only sermon I knew at the time). I started out in prison chapels. I preached in family rooms. I managed a staff of mostly family members and a congregation of the same when I first started out.

Training for greater things always takes place in lesser things. Be faithful, responsible, and content where you are now. That is one of the major secrets to God taking you further and giving you more.

Tony Evans, Detours: The Unpredictable Path to Your Destiny (Nashville, TN: B&H Books, 2017), 1–4.

We have just completed a Bible study to guide your group into meditating on and applying these truths. Detours is our Bible Study based on Dane Ortlund’s book by the same name. It consists of 7 lessons with ready-to-use questions suitable for groups. It can be purchased on Amazon and is also available as part of Good Questions Have Groups Talking Subscription Service.