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image of fetters

Psalm 105:17-19 says, “He [GOD] sent a man before them, even Joseph, who was sold for a servant: Whose feet they hurt with fetters: he was laid in iron: Until the time that his word came: the word of the LORD tried him.”

Joseph really went through it, didn’t he? If you are unfamiliar with his story, or just want a refresher, his story begins in Genesis 37 and goes for several chapters, but for now we are going to focus on what David says about him in Psalm 105.

God in His sovereignty knew what it would take to get Joseph to be the man that he needed him to be. God knew it would take many years of chains and servitude, but Joseph didn’t know that. Would Joseph be able to believe God even while in chains? God needed Joseph to be the man He knew he could be. Chains is what it took. Joseph allowed the chains to do their perfect work so that when the time of his word came, he would be ready. The question is, “Will I allow the chains to do their perfect work in me?”

The Psalmist goes on to say that Joseph’s feet were hurt with fetters. I can’t help but think of Psalm 51:8. It says, “…let the bones which Thou hast broken rejoice.” Sometimes, God has to allow our feet to be hurt in order to get us to bow. Otherwise, we will stay standing forever. We convince ourselves that our hearts are humble, but God has called us to our knees. We need to be in the place where if God needs to break every bone of our body in order to get us to be the people we are designed to be, we gladly accept His decision. We need to be able to sow with a view to righteousness (Hosea 10:12) even while in chains.

Oftentimes, God allows chains to hold us back for a time because we need to mature in Him. We need to rest in Him, His timing and His sovereignty. We might feel as if a fetter is an individual, or a church, when in reality God is breaking the bone that is too rigid to bend.

Maybe you feel like God has called you to work with college kids, or the elderly, or any number of things, but nobody seems to “get it”. Instead of trying yet another church, or media blitz, or a friend you are hoping will understand this time, maybe you need to acknowledge that the time of your word has simply not arrived. Maybe this is your time to be still and know that He is God. Maybe this is the time to rest in Him and His timing and truly put to the test if you really believe He is sovereign. Maybe God knows that you needed the hope of the dream, but the journey needs walking through first. Let’s not get frustrated. Let’s get humble. Let’s be the servants we are called to be in the places we are at.

Joseph was faithful wherever he was placed and however he was placed there and God took care of the rest. God took care of his reputation, his position and the timing of it all. God even put so much life in between Joseph and his brothers that when the time came to forgive, there was not a problem, just beautiful restoration.

Don’t we want that? Don’t we want beautiful restoration and redemption to be woven through the entire fabric of our lives? Don’t we want to be remembered as a Joseph and not a Jonah?

Poor Jonah, he did a mighty work, but when I think of him I usually only remember his stubbornness and anger when God saved an entire race of people through his preaching. When I think of Jonah, I usually only remember his lack of compassion. I do not want to be remembered like that.

When I think of Joseph though, I can’t help but remember his forgiveness, his faithfulness and his restoration with a family he thought he had lost forever. When we allow our time in the chains to train us, that’s what God can do. When we allow the bones He has broken to be healed in His ministering hands, that’s what God can do. When we bow to Him when our feet are hurt in the fetters, He makes our feet like hinds’ feet and makes us to walk on our high places (Habakkuk 3:17-19). That’s what our God can do.

So, let’s thank Him for the chains. Let’s thank Him for the broken bones and let’s thank Him that His ways are not our ways and His thoughts are not our thoughts (Isaiah 55:8). Let’s remember today that our chafing in the chains always has a purpose and when God releases us it will be for His glory and for His Kingdom. Let’s rejoice in that today!

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