Problems Potentially Promote Spiritual Maturity (Lessons from the Life of Joseph)

Adversities have the potential to make us better, or bitter. It is up to us to decide what we want the results of our adversities to be. If we will refuse to become bitter, we can become better.

When Joseph shared his dreams with his brothers he experienced unfair treatment. Psalm 105:17-19 devotes several verses to a summary of Joseph’s life: “He sent a man before them, Joseph, who was sold as a slave. They afflicted his feet with fetters, he himself was laid in irons; until the time that his word came to pass, the word of the Lord tested him.


The key word in this passage is the word “tested.” Satan tempts us but God tests us. What kind of man would Joseph become? Joseph went through thirteen years of difficult circumstances as an immature man but he came out as a mature man. Dr. David Jeremiah, in his book, God Meant It For Good, states, “His soul was toughened, made mature by the iron that bound him in prison.”

Joseph’s tested maturity is reflected in his response to his brothers when they came to Egypt to buy food. He would not even allow his brothers to feel guilty for selling him to slave traders. When he finally revealed himself to his brothers he said, “I am your brother Joseph whom you sold into Egypt. Now do not be grieved or angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life.”  (Genesis 45:4-5)

When we trust Christ Jesus as Lord and Savior, we start a new life as “babies in Christ.” A spiritual process has begun. Some times that spiritual growth gets stunted because we turn our attention to other things or persons. Our focus is no longer on Jesus. Difficult times, problems, trying circumstances can be so sever and hurtful that they cause us to reevaluate life. The Lord allows different, difficult experiences to come our way for His purpose in each individual. It is a common false assumption that we will go through our spiritual journey without experiencing trying circumstances.

God used sibling hatred, slavery, lies, and prison to forge Joseph into a man qualified for a new dimension, to be God’s servant, in God’s will, to accomplish God’s plan. Joseph’s submission to God’s testing in his life from age seventeen to age thirty produced eighty years of godly service moving forward for God’s purpose. Through trying times, we too can become the person God desires us to be. God wants to mold us into the image of His Son, Christ Jesus, “For those whom He foreknew He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son...” (Romans 8:29

Like Joseph, from the difficult circumstances in which we find ourselves we can choose to be bitter or better.  Joseph chose to be better.