Joe was a man who knew a thing or two about suffering. It all started with some jealous older brothers who hated him so much they couldn’t say one kind word to him.

One day, Joe’s brothers threw him into an empty well, sold him as a slave to some foreigners, and then faked his death to their father. In the new country, with its strange culture, he was put to work. He won the respect of others and his life circumstances were improving—until his boss’s wife made a pass at him. When Joe refused her advances, she got angry—then she got even. She falsely accused him of sexual assault. As a result, he lost his position and was thrown in jail.

While Joe’s story could be a modern-day movie, you may recognize it as one from the Bible (Genesis 37, 39-42).

Joseph knew what it was like to be thrown into a deep dark hole and left for dead. Joseph’s life, like ours, was filled with plans gone awry, dreams turned to nightmares. While he’d never been told he would be blind, like me, he endured pits of other kinds. Yet when we read his story we see that he somehow avoided the perpetual pity-party mindset we often adopt. None of that “I’m trapped in the storm drain of life” talk, either.

The key to Joseph’s survival was in the focus of his gaze. When he was in the pit he wasn’t looking at the imprisoning walls or the impossible climb. Instead, he looked up. Eyes heavenward, he gazed into the Light and God illumined the dark places.

I would imagine most of us have been in a pit of some sort. Whether you are in one now, or just climbing out of one, remember Jesus’ words: “I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

Trouble is a given. Situational pits are part of life. The good news is Jesus overcame so we can overcome. Whatever your pit, be encouraged. Take heart. And don’t forget to look up!

I lift up my eyes to the hills—
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
Psalm 121:1-2