WHEN YOU FIGHT YOUR HELPER UNKNOWN…

1. Boomerangs 
Sometimes we think to hurt the other person when we deliberately do them wrong, but it occasionally happens that we only hurt ourselves, at times painfully and irreversibly so.  Regrets then follow realisation, but sometimes too late, especially when obstinate ego has joined hands with our purposeful cruelty.  

I watched a short video recently, which was said to have been based on a real life story.  A man was driving to answer an emergency when he got stopped at a police checkpoint, the type that Nigerians would mischievously call a ‘tollgate.’  He told the officers that he was a doctor, that there was an emergency, and that he was actually a “moving ambulance.”  They were callously adamant.  They kept asking stupid questions and making veiled threats.  It seemed obvious that they wanted something else.   

While still being held down by the police officers, he got a call again from the hospital, but they had already taken his phone from him.  He told them that it was a call from his nurse, but it seemed to infuriate them the more. Just then, the boss at the checkpoint got a call from his wife.  There was an emergency.  Their son had been rushed to the hospital.  He hurried off to the hospital, but then the son had just died.  He was very broken and angry at the very careless hospital whose doctor was not available to attend to emergencies.  He threatened to arrest everyone and tear down the whole place.  The nurse assured him again that the doctor would soon be there.   

A while later, the doctor rushed in.  It was the same driver that the police officer with his team had maliciously delayed at their callous checkpoint.  The doctor identified the officer.  That was the man who had detained him at the checkpoint despite all entreaties. The tables turned.  The police officer was shocked and speechless, overcome with sudden grief and shame.  His wife got the story and turned her anger at the husband that had killed their son.  Boomerang.  
 

2. Carriers 
There is a Bible story about Mr Potiphar the Egyptian officer who had a very faithful Hebrew servant.  He began to prosper when that servant got into his house, “And his master saw that the LORD was with him, and that the LORD made all that he did to prosper in his hand” (Genesis 39:3).  The story does not only say that the servant brought blessings to the life of Mr Potiphar, it also specifies the point in time at which that radical change began in the affairs of that Egyptian boss: 

And it came to pass from the time that he had made him overseer in his house, and over all that he had, that the LORD blessed the Egyptian’s house for Joseph’s sake; and the blessing of the LORD was upon all that he had in the house, and in the field Genesis 39:5). 

The blessings that Mr Potiphar began to enjoy were not because he was a good planner, or because he worked very hard, or because he had the ‘right connections.’  The blessings had a supernatural explanation: “for Joseph’s sake.”  The Hebrew slave was the reason for Mr Potiphar’s sudden fortunes: his new houses, his classy chariots, the sudden expansions in business, the wife’s new dresses and increased welfare packages, her new shops all across the land, her new status and prestige among other women … all was traceable to Joseph’s entrance into that home.   

To all appearances, the Potiphars were the source of Joseph’s new joy, the ones who paid his critical wages, the explanation for his residency in Egypt, the reason for his new clothes and his present comforts.  In truth, however, it was the reverse.  The appearances were wrong. They needed him more than he needed them. He was their Blessing although he got only a tiny fraction of what he gave.  Sadly, the blinded Potiphars were soon to be fooled. 
 

3. Ironic Exteriors 
Joseph carried Something, even though he did not look like what he carried.  How could a helpless immigrant slave, dependent on them for his wages and safety, be the source of so much that himself did not have? How could a poor boy be the Cause and Source of their much wealth?  Joseph didn’t look it, but he was it.   

Sometimes the reverse is also the case, that the carrier of a most tempestuous storm, like Jonah, could appear in the ironically reverential garb of a priest; or a killer, like Cain, could be a proximate brother who has shared a mother’s tender milk. Delilah the destroyer, with her soft voice and lavish soothing kisses, certainly did not look like the disaster that she brought upon Samson.  Her delicate form and feminine frailty did not look like the strong woman who was soon to defeat and overthrow the super-heavyweight universal champion that mighty nations feared.  

Carriers do not always look like it. Joseph the servant in the house of Potiphar the prince certainly did not look like what he carried, but all that was about to change suddenly, in a most unexpected way.  
 

4. The Tragic Wife 
Mr Potiphar had a strange wife who took a liking to the Jewish slave, and tried all kinds of seductions on him to no avail. Finally, she framed him for trying to rape her when it was she who tried to rape him but did not succeed.  Somehow, she got her husband on her side, with her ‘strong facts.’  Those who knew the truth had no voice in the case.  They dared not say anything, because Mrs Potiphar could be vengefully mean.   

Joseph was thrown into jail, then everything began to dry up around the Potiphar household (Genesis 39:7-29).  Whatever had followed Joseph into their lives had followed him out of their proud and merciless home.  Suddenly, Mrs Potiphar’s choice chariots began to break down one after the other.  With little money left to fix such affluent chariots, they had to be sold off as scraps to raise the funds to cushion other unrelenting bills.  Her husband’s other servants began to resign or steal from what was left.  The children fell sick one after the other, with medical bills going through their now leaking roof. To manage to appease the stream of pitiless bills, Mr Potiphar’s mansions had to be auctioned off, until he was a homeless man with his decrepit wife along the corridors of Egypt, or maybe just simply back to square one where Joseph had met him in the past.   

When Mrs Potiphar chose to fight Joseph, she did not realise that she was about to pull off the velvet rug under her feet. She had undone herself, and it was irreversible.  Whatever did not want her to enjoy life; whatever had been following the husband to ensure that he remained poor, had finally succeeded to get Joseph their helper out of their lives, no matter how it came.  Years later when Joseph became Prime Minister in Egypt, they probably became his junior officers, if they were still there at all.  If they were in attendance at his swearing in ceremony, they certainly could not look into the face of the boy they had abused; the helper they had shamefully and forever lost. 
 

5. The Rough Road to Paradise 
Who was the loser at last? Joseph in the prison or Potiphar in the safety of his now-barren home?  Well, thanks to Mrs Potiphar’s lies and her husband’s romantic and hasty injustice.  He probably wanted to be politically correct, matrimonially correct, culturally correct – in not investigating the matter.  For all his correctness, he stayed poorer ever after.  Joseph had moved on and was the better.   

In the prison where they threw Joseph was where he met the servant of Pharaoh who eventually provided the access that saw that Hebrew slave to the high stool of Egypt. But for her, he might have missed the prison that was his connection to the palace. Some prisons are not actually what they seem for everyone. 

In Potiphar’s house, “the LORD was with Joseph,” and caused him to prosper “in the house of his master the Egyptian.”  When they threw him out of their lives into jail, “the LORD was [still] with Joseph, and shewed him mercy, and gave him favour in the sight of the keeper of the prison” (Genesis 39:2, 21).  Whatever had followed Joseph into their house had followed him out of that house into his new estate in prison.  He began to prosper even there, as if to say that where you are matters little if the Lord is there with you; that His presence can make the ‘wrongest’ place very right.   
 

6. The Joseph Factor 
The Joseph factor is not without its labours.  The Scripture says that “the LORD made all that he did to prosper in his hand” (Genesis 39:3).  The Lord did not bless nothing; He blessed something “in the hand” of Joseph.  Joseph did not just sit and wish the blessings; “he did something that the Lord made “to prosper.”  That his head carried a covenant of blessing did not mean that his hands couldn’t be busy. With such a person, it could well be said, “the LORD was with Joseph.”  Solomon warns, “He becometh poor that dealeth with a slack hand: but the hand of the diligent maketh rich” (Proverbs 10:4.  See also Proverbs 24; 13:4.  
 

7. A Prayer 
Joseph seemed to carry prosperity wherever he went, even into prison.  Sometimes the look, the status, and the circumstances could be deceptive.  Carriers do not always look like it, so they are sometimes missed (John 1:10-12; Hebrews 13:2).  David and one unnamed Amalekite prince also had a related experience that would be a story for another day (1 Samuel 30:10-20). 

O Lord, save us from sturdy-looking Achans who sadly bring a defeat to every army they join (Joshua 7:1-26).  Help us not to miss that apparently unlikely ‘slave girl’ who has the critical key to the escape route from a prolonged and embarrassing leprosy (2 Kings 5:2-4).  Help us not to lose our helpers, no matter the setup and diabolical manipulations to seem ‘right’ doing so. May our eyes be open to discern carriers, whether they be Josephs or Jonahs. To some, O Lord, give a second chance for helpers carelessly lost, in Jesus name. Amen.

 

From The Preacher’s diary,
August 18, 2023. 

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