I don’t know if it’s the below freezing temps here in ATL, or what, but I’ve been in a little bit of a funk these last 24 hours. It wasn’t until I read two verses in the middle of Joseph’s story in Genesis, did I get a new perspective on adversity and shed some light on a some bad attitudes that have contributed to the funk.
Just to give you a recap of his life, I’ve highlighted the most important events that we see in Genesis 37-47:
-Joseph receives a beautiful, colorful coat from his father, Jacob, and reveals his dreams to his brothers about them bowing down before him someday
-His jealous brothers threw him into a pit and subsequently sold him into slavery when Joseph was 17
-Joseph is taken to Egypt
-Served Potiphar, Pharaoh’s captain of the guard faithfully
-Is accused of seducing Potiphar’s wife
-He is thrown back into a place of imprisonment
-During his jail time, he is made supervisor of all the other inmates
-While in jail, Joseph interprets the dreams of Pharaoh’s cupbearer and baker and receives a promise from the cupbearer that he will be remembered once the cupbearer gets out of prison
-The cupbearer breaks his promise
-Years later, as the Pharaoh needs a dream interpreter, Joseph performs this task perfectly
-He is appointed to the highest position in Egypt at the age of 30, amassing huge quantities of grain throughout Egypt in order to prepare for a seven year famine following seven years of plenty
-His brothers come to him, two years into the famine, pleading with Joseph to sell them some grain and from Joseph’s generosity, he saves not only his own family, but an entire nation of people.
You might be thinking several times throughout the narrative, “Gee whiz, couldn’t this guy catch a break?” If you look at these events as a whole, it’s a crazy coaster.
It seems that Joseph was treated unfairly as soon as he slipped that lovely jacket around his shoulders. But I want to go just a little bit deeper to get to the core of how I believe we need follow Joseph’s example in handling adversity:
1) Remain Sensitive-It’s easy to allow our hearts to become hardened after betrayal, to refuse to give or accept love, but we know that Joseph remained sensitive because he breaks down into tears twice while meeting with his brothers and had to excuse himself. For twenty-two years, his heart never left his family.
2) Continue to Give Generously-Throughout his life, Joseph was in a continual state of captivity–in jail or in service to an Egyptian official, but throughout, Joseph gave his all, in his duties to Potiphar, to the head jailer, to strangers and inmates and finally to Pharaoh in a country not his own.
Joseph was able to do these two things because he remembered:
3) Anything that Happens to You is Not outside of the Sovereign Will of God. To me, these two verses are some of the most powerful of the whole story, ones, certainly that should be written on the tablet of our hearts:
“But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance. So then, it was not you who sent me here, but GOD.” (Genesis 45: 7-8 emphasis mine)
We may think that our adverse conditions or circumstances are a direct result of someone else’s decisions or behaviors, and ostensibly, they may be, but God has a bigger, truer plan in all of it and for that I am grateful.