By Allen White
The LORD was with Joseph and he prospered, and he lived in the house of his Egyptian master. Genesis 39:2
Joseph is remarkable to me. His brothers threw him down a well (Genesis 37:23-24), faked his death (Genesis 37:31-33), sold him into slavery (Genesis 37:28, 36), then Joseph rises up to flourish in Potiphar’s household (Genesis 39:2-6). After Joseph flees from the advances of Potiphar’s wife (Genesis 39:6-15), he is falsely accused and thrown into prison (Genesis 39:16-20) where he prospered (Genesis 39:20-23). After Joseph had been forgotten for two years (Genesis 41:1), he is called upon to interpret Pharaoh’s dream (Genesis 41:15), and then becomes basically the Prime Minister of Egypt (Genesis 41:41-57).
Here’s the difference between me and Joseph: good things and bad things also happen to me, but my response tends to significantly less positive than Joseph’s. If Joseph had become bitter, depressed, questioned his faith, questioned the goodness of God, and wondered if he’d made a mistake at each juncture of his life, then we could be twins. This is one of many reasons why you don’t read about my life in the Bible.
The remarkable thing about Joseph is that he didn’t intentionally turn lemons into lemonade. He didn’t force himself to sing Bobby McFerrin (“Don’t worry. Be Happy.”) or listen to Tony Robbins tapes. While we don’t know what he did at the bottom of the well, other than just wait, we see at Potiphar’s house, in prison, and in Pharaoh’s administration, Joseph was available for God to use him. And, God caused him to prosper over and over again.
So often we think “Well, if I can just get through this, then I can focus on serving God.” But, here’s the deal: do we ever actually get through it? As Rick Warren says, we are always in one of three places: in a problem, exiting from a problem, or entering a new problem. There is no problem-free. (To borrow a phrase from my friend, Mark Howell). Life doesn’t stop because we have problems. Spiritual growth doesn’t stop either.
In fact, the problems that we’re facing can better reveal God’s glory and power in our lives than the peaceful times. We might think that there is no possible way that we can pour more effort in our relationship with God when our problems are sapping all of our strength. So, don’t. Don’t try harder to serve God. Let God work in you. Just lay it all out before Him: “God here I am in the middle of this problem. I feel like I’m at my brink. I can’t deal with it, and I certainly don’t feel like I can move forward spiritually. I need for You to work in me through this situation. Accomplish what You intend through these circumstances. I can’t. I give it to You.” Then, wait and see how God works.
God can bring unrealistic peace (Philippians 4:6-7). God can cause us to flourish. Our circumstances will never be perfect, and we certainly can’t afford to wait to grow spiritually.
Maybe you feel like you’ve been thrown down a well today. Maybe you’ve been falsely accused or mistreated. Maybe you feel forgotten. God wants to uniquely use this circumstance to develop His character in you and to show you His goodness.
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