There have been many points in my life where I have wondered what is God’s plan for me, or what the ultimate outcome of a difficult situation would be in God’s timing. Oftentimes, we can be so caught up in the moment that we struggle to appreciate the grand tapestry that God is weaving. This is especially so in times of difficulty, when the pain or struggle of the moment makes it difficult to see beyond the tangled and frayed mess that is on the backside of His tapestry.
Thankfully, the Bible is filled with numerous accounts that remind us that things are not always what they seem, and in God’s grand tapestry, everything falls perfectly in place in His perfect timing. The life of Joseph is compelling evidence of this.
Who would have thought that the little boy that was dumped in a pit by his brothers, at first to be killed, but later sold to slavery, would one day rise to rule over the most powerful kingdom of the day? Yet, God has a remarkable way of turning things around in the most astounding and unfathomable of ways.
There is much we can learn from the way Joseph conducted himself as he journeyed through his life’s roller coaster ride of exhilarating peaks, and seemingly desperate troughs.
Count our blessings even in times of difficulty
Even as we journey through life’s difficult moments, we should do so with the knowledge that we have a God who loves us dearly and who delights in blessing us. God blesses us even when He places us in difficult times and experience.
Joseph was so cognizant of this fact that he named his son Ephraim, “For God has made me fruitful in the land of my affliction.”(Genesis 41:52). Joseph must have had a constant and deep longing to return to the land of his father, Israel. He was, after all, a Hebrew living amongst Egyptians, in a time when the Egyptians felt so much disdain and contempt toward Hebrews that it was an abomination to the Egyptians to even eat with Hebrews (Genesis 43:32). God never delivered Joseph out of Egypt, but Joseph always experienced God’s favour in the land of his affliction, be it when he was unjustly locked up for years in a prison cell or when he was the second most powerful man in all of Egypt.
A God-ward focus helps us maintain our integrity
The Lord was with Joseph, and it soon became apparent to his Egyptian master, Potiphar, that the Lord caused all that Joseph did to succeed in His hands (Genesis 39:3). Joseph became so successful that Potiphar placed everything under his control and charge. So complete was Potiphar’s trust in Joseph that his only concern in life was the type of food he ate (Genesis 39:6). Potiphar could only have such complete trust in Joseph because Joseph guarded his integrity preciously.
We see that Joseph maintained his integrity whatever the cost …when he refused to succumb to the advances of Potiphar’s wife, and even when he was harshly and unjustly punished for it. Yet, the Bible does not say that Joseph harboured deep resentment against God and man for the unfair punishment he received. Joseph’s primary concern was that he lived a life pleasing to God, regardless of what others might think, or the consequences – “How can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?” (Genesis 39:9). Joseph knew that it was God, and not man, that held him to account, and that helped him stay on the straight and narrow.
Never forget to give God the glory
Joseph was fully aware that he had a God-given gift of interpreting dreams. He never claimed credit for it, even though most men, in his position would have readily done so. Consider this – Joseph had been wrongfully imprisoned for over two years when Pharaoh called him to interpret his dreams. Most men in his position would have readily affirmed that they had the requisite gift or talent that would have served Pharaoh in his time of need. But not Joseph. Instead, Joseph knew that it was more important to find favour with God than with man. Joseph was acutely aware that his gift was from God and he unequivocally made that known to Pharaoh – “It is not me; God will give Pharaoh a favourable answer.” (Genesis 41:16).
By Shem Khoo, Deacon (YCKC Bulletin 9&10 July 2016)