Remember Your “Cistern Story”

So when Joseph came to his brothers, they stripped him of his robe—the ornate robe he was wearing—and they took him and threw him into the cistern. The cistern was empty; there was no water in it. – Genesis 37:23-24, NIV


What’s your “Cistern Story?”

Can you think of a time when your world was turn upside down?

  • Was it a cancer diagnosis?
  • Did you miscarry or shockingly discover you were pregnant?
  • Was your world rocked by a suicide?
  • Were you falsely accused or unjustly imprisoned?
  • Did you find yourself cut loose from a job and company to which you had devoted your best working years?
  • Were you sucker punched upon discovering thousands of sexts/texts between your wife and another man at all hours of the night?
  • Did someone steal your savings or did you find your family business go bankrupt killing your dreams of a secure retirement?
  • Or were you laid low by discovering infidelity via discovering her thong in your marriage bed?
  • Or did you simply find yourself single after your spouse of years discarded you like you were a used piece of tissue paper?

I do not know the name of your cistern(s).

But I do know hope exists for those of us who have spent time in the cisterns of life.

Joseph did not deserve the treatment given to him. He was thrown into a cistern, sold into slavery, and unjustly imprisoned for refusing to commit adultery with his employer’s wife. He had it rough.

It was not fair.

Joseph could have camped in “The Land of It’s-Not-Fair.” Thankfully, he did not. Although, I suspect–even though it is not in the texts–that Joseph had days or more where he was angry with God. That said, we do know Joseph kept on striving and being a faithful steward wherever God put him–whether that was as a slave, a prisoner, or a ruler of Egypt. Eventually, God brought Joseph’s brothers and family to him. And we have the story about how Joseph forgave them…after he had his fun making his brother sweat, I would remind everyone!

We have choices to make.

Are we going to camp in “The Land of It’s-Not-Fair” or are we going to follow Joseph’s example being faithful stewards in what choices we have left? Will we stay stuck in the pit or keep moving forward–maybe with some gentle and loving reminders from others–choosing to focus on what we do control–i.e. ourselves–and letting go of what we do not–e.g. whether or not our cheating spouse truly repents?

For those out of the pit:

When we encounter another person freshly in a “pit,” are we going to remember our own “Cistern Story” or are we going to do everything we can to avoid those difficult memories even arguing how the person deserved being thrown in the pit? I am glad God put some dear Christian family members in my life who chose to do the former and not just “Christian” people who chose the latter.

You do not have to have experienced the exact same “Cistern story” to relate to the pain and despair that comes with adultery and infidelity discovery.

Just remember what it felt like when your world was unexpectedly, completely, irrevocably, and even unfairly upended and shattered.

The cistern is a difficult place to be. But it can teach us to be kind to others if we allow it, and it can be a launching pad into a glorious future. Joseph went from the cistern to slavery to prison to Pharoah’s right hand ruler.

I wonder what your trajectory will be?