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 Fingerprints are evidence that someone was present. Do your recognize God’s fingerprints in your everyday life? Do you see them in the hard places?

Hard places can feel like a type of prison.
Prison is a place of confinement or involuntary restraint. Could that be describing your life circumstances at the moment? Our bodies can betray us, lack of finances can feel oppressing and unmet expectations in relationships can feel stifling or restrictive. Sometimes we are unjustly thrown into prison and sometimes we build our own prison cells, one bar at a time. At any rate even the feeling of prison is hard.

The account of Joseph in the Bible speaks of when he was betrayed and sold into slavery by his brothers. After two years his circumstances gained some ease. He was still in confinement but he became a well-respected slave in Pharaohs house. He served time in Pharaoh’s house for twelve years. That is a long time to live in restriction. In the midst of this sentence he was falsely accused of attempted rape.  He was then thrown into a more unpleasant type of prison for over two years. It is here I want to pause in Joseph’s life’s story. What a long stretch of betrayal, hardship and injustice!

How do you react to hard places?
A normal reaction to such repeated injustice could be bitter rage, shaking our hand at God and those around us or withdrawal into a state of silent depression. How did Joseph not succumb to the normal? Looking back at his track record of dealing with injustice I think we can safely assume that he continued to pursue God and simply did the next right thing, regardless his circumstances. It seems like Joseph learned how to do life well in confinement and involuntary restraint. Joseph’s account in scripture reminds me that life is full of choices, even in the hard places.

How are you doing my friend?
The craving for different is a strong pull. The temptation to serve ungodly choices versus God and His ways is one or several reactions away. It is challenging to maintain a soft heart toward God and those around us in hard circumstances. In our own strength, maintaining an upright character in prison is next to impossible. I quickly think of Ezekiel 14:26 where I’m reminded that it is God who gives us a new spirit and it is God who removes our hard hearts and replaces them with soft hearts. And it is God that moves us to follow Him and His ways. I wonder how often Joseph had to call out for help?

In Joseph’s story, Genesis 39:20b and 21 catches my attention. “….But while Joseph was there in the prison, the Lord was with him; he showed him kindness and granted him favor in the eyes of the prison warden.”

What a beautiful reminder that while “in prison” God is near His children. God is present and we are not alone. The fingerprints of God’s kindness and favor can be easily overlooked because of the heaviness of hard circumstances and longing of the heart for different.

I would never discount the hard “in prison” like circumstances. Devastation, disillusionment and discouragement go deep. I don’t deny the bruises or the pain endured. The struggle is real. But I have found that being aware of God’s presence, His kindness and His favor soften the blow.

As Eugene Peterson says, “God eclipses the suffering.”

Perhaps this Thanksgiving season we need to turn our Gratitude Journals into an account of God’s Fingerprints? Do you recognize God’s kindness and favor in a sunset, a call from a friend, the ability to go for a walk or a change up in pressing circumstances?

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” James 1:17

Fingerprints show that someone was present. God is near. Don’t miss Him!

Lynn Jackson
Thrive Leadership Foundation