Joseph floated into my mind last night. "Go look up Joseph in Genesis" was the prompting. "The chapter about him in Potiphar's house and in prison (that would be Genesis 39).
The original reason I had intended to go there was almost because of a counter-reaction to the recent spate of materials I've been reading concerning success and achievement. The thought ran something like this: "Hmmm. I wonder how Joseph, who obviously had access to any kind of literature about how to succeed, yet even in Potiphar's house and in prison, he did. I wonder if there's anything there for me?"
So I went and looked - but got the answer I did not intended at all. Essentially, the chapter says three things: Joseph trusted God, God blessed Joseph, Joseph was diligent ("whatever they did there (in the prison), it was his doing" - verse 22)- and the intermediate reward in both places was prison.
That's not what I really wanted to get out of it.
So I went and grabbed Joseph: A Man of Integrity and Forgiveness by Charles Swindoll and went to those two chapters for additional insight. Surely I had missed something?
Nope. Swindoll actually spends most of the chapters dealing with resisting temptation (Joseph and Potiphar's wife) and Joseph's faith in prison, otherwise known as doing the right thing and then being seemingly forgotten for it - and how he refused to be bitter, but trusted God alone.
From Swindoll's book:
"He knows just the right message at just the right time, and all it takes to receive it is a sensitive, obedient, trusting heart. Not one preoccupied with revenge or bitterness or hostility (or having to be dislocate from your life -TB), but a heart that says 'Lord, God, help me now. Right at this moment. Deliver me from my own prison. Help me to see beyond the darkness, to see Your hand. As I am being crushed, remold me. Help me to see You in this abandonment, this rejection" (pp. 53-54).
It's interesting to me that (once again) the focus is about God, seeing Him and glorifying Him, rather than the situation.
Hmm. Maybe there is a message there - as long as I'm willing to accept it as it is rather than try to pour my own meaning into it.