Recently, I took some time out to check out some commonly used oxymora, and I had a good time to say the least. I was reminded of many phrases I had grown up with and discovered a few new oxymora. Here are some I looked through: open secret, act naturally, found missing, deafening silence, pretty ugly, clearly confused, original copies, even odds, freezer, burn, rolling stop, minor crisis, exact estimate, same difference, seriously joking, unbiased opinion, detailed summary, stand down, once again, working holiday, to mention a few. I especially liked jumbo shrimp! And yes, I didn't know ‘bride groom’ was an oxymoron.
Down, to business. I read a story, the first few sentences of which shook me. Here is the story:
AND JOSEPH was brought down to Egypt; and Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, the captain and chief executioner of the [royal] guard, an Egyptian, bought him from the Ishmaelites who had brought him down there. But the Lord was with Joseph, and he [though a slave] was a successful and prosperous man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian. And his master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord made all that he did to flourish and succeed in his hand. So Joseph pleased [Potiphar] and found favor in his sight, and he served him. And [his master] made him supervisor over his house and he put all that he had in his charge. From the time that he made him supervisor in his house and over all that he had, the Lord blessed the Egyptian's house for Joseph's sake; and the Lord's blessing was on all that he had in the house and in the field.1
That is one oxymoron difficult to understand.
Joseph is sold into slavery by his brothers (they were envious of him and his dream and wanted him out!). He gets into the house of his master, and the story says he is successful. A successful servant? How could anyone have success in a situation that is as demeaning as slavery. This man saw Potiphar give some money for him—he was bought, but that didn’t stop him from being successful. The story even says that Joseph was a prosperous man, and that this prosperity spread across all that his master owned. Joseph was so successful that in order for his master to succeed, the latter had to hand over the entire business of his household to the former.
Everyone of us has experienced some oxymora in our lives. For me, it’s been a full ride. I have often found myself counseling people to break free from habits and challenges I was currently working through. I have prayed for people who has similar needs as mine and had them come back to me with a story of a divine miracle. I have had people look up to me for strength when it was God’s grace that kept my skin on my bones! People have given me accolades for a job I didn’t think I did my best in. I have been in situations where I thought I was supposed to be honored, but was relegated to the background. I have had seasons in my life where there was no break or breathing space—nothing was working—and I was expected to smile, be strong and encourage others. There have been times in my life I would have thought I had over grown a particular stage, but found myself stuck in it. Have you found yourself stagnated and people less qualified than you promoted? What different oxymora have you found yourself in?
The question now is how do you survive in the flourishing wilderness of oxymoron? How do I keep the negative vibes from poisoning my system? How do I keep afloat in a storm? How do I stay joyful in a dungeon? I think we can learn a lot from Joseph.
The answer and secret to Joseph’s success is found in the text:
But the Lord was with Joseph…
The secret to his success was his constant connection to God. No matter where Joseph found himself, pit, Potiphar’s house, prison or palace, he kept his relationship with God the top priority! He understood that servitude didn’t not have to mean bondage; he turned his servitude to service that lead to greatness.
Here are the thoughts that keep me sane when I go through my oxymoron seasons:
As long as you remain connected and obedient to God, all things are working for your good. And even if you slip and make mistakes, God knows how to turn things around for your good.
We are assured and know that [God being a partner in our labor] all things work together and are [fitting into a plan] for good to and for those who love God and are called according to [His] design and purpose.2
Your process is for your good. Joseph got the training he needed to be Prime Minister from his time as a slave and prisoner. He met the man that connected him to the Pharaoh while serving a prison-term for a crime he didn’t commit!
But He knows the way that I take [He has concern for it, appreciates, and pays attention to it]. When He has tried me, I shall come forth as refined gold [pure and luminous].3
The key is to stay focused—locked in—on God. A ship only sinks when the water gets into it! Keep the ocean out and you will stay afloat! Concentrate on the positive half of the oxymoron and you will win in the end!
You will guard him and keep him in perfect and constant peace whose mind [both its inclination and its character] is stayed on You, because he commits himself to You, leans on You, and hopes confidently in You.4
We all will be faced with challenges that will demand more from us than we ever thought we had. And in these difficult times, we will be expected to give from drained reserves. The whole aim of this article is to redirect your attention, away from the bolstering winds to the ship that you are in.
You can make it through! I know you can. If Joseph moved from slavery to royalty, you can too!!!
1. Genesis 39:1-5, Amplified Bible
2. Romans 8:28, Amplified Bible
3. Job 23:10, Amplified Bible
4. Isaiah 26:3, Amplified Bible