Joseph, of the Old Testament, was one of the sons of Jacob. He was the favored child of his father because he was the son of the woman Jacob loved most, Rachel. This favoritism by their father generated envy among Joseph’s brothers. Other factors helped this envy build such as the two dreams Joseph had indicating he would one day be in a place of superiority over them. The dreams painted a picture of history that ultimately was fulfilled in Joseph’s life. The brothers had such hatred and bitterness toward him that they threw him into a pit, and planned to kill him. Instead, they sold him to an Egyptian official who put him in charge of his entire household.
Other circumstances later led to Joseph’s imprisonment, but he eventually became next in command to Pharaoh, “The Pharaoh said to his servants, ‘Can we find a man like this, in whom is a divine spirit?’ So Pharaoh said to Joseph, ‘Since God has informed you of all this, there is no one so discerning and wise as you are. You shall be over my house, and according to your command all my people shall do homage; only in the throne I will be greater than you...See, I have set you over all the land of Egypt.’ Then Pharaoh took off his signet ring from his hand and put it on Joseph’s hand and clothed him in garments of fine linen and put the gold necklace around his neck. He had him ride in his second chariot; and they proclaimed before him, ‘Bow the knee!’ And he set him over all the land of Egypt.” (Genesis 41: 38-43)
There are some principles in Joseph’s response to his circumstances that can help us find the lessons God has for us to learn during times of adversity. One is, problems provide for us greater opportunities. Joseph’s brothers, by selling him into slavery, “Meant it to him for evil but God meant it for good.” (Genesis 50:20)
It is obvious that Joseph was not raised in a perfect environment but he never blamed his family during his difficult circumstances. He just continued to trust God. When we experience negative events in our lives, we are still responsible for our responses to these circumstances. Look at some other examples how God brought good out of difficult situations:
The apostle Paul was in prison when he wrote Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians and Philemon.
The apostle John wrote the book of Revelation while in exile on the Isle of Patmos in the Mediterranean Sea.
John Bunyan, the author of Pilgrim’s Progress, wrote his classic allegory while in prison.
Charles Colson, the former White House legal counselor to President Nixon spent seven months in prison for his part in the Watergate affairs said, “My worst days as a Christian (his prison sentence) were far more rewarding than my best days in the White House.” Why? In prison he was humbled and it gave him an opportunity to learn to walk with God and learn about the spiritual needs of prisoners. Out of his experience Prison Ministry Fellowship was organized. That organization has reached many prisoners with the Gospel and ministered to their families.
Adverse circumstances are difficult, but they often provide opportunities we would never discover without going through these circumstances. A unique aspect of Christianity is that Christ Jesus is with us whenever difficult times come. When we think we are all alone in the midst of our troubles, He is there. Your response to Him will make a difference in your life.