Success and failure are not determined by what you are in, but what is in you. Joseph was born into a large family. From the time he was a child he had dreams of what his life would be like when he became an adult. God showed him that he would be a successful leader. His older brothers hated him because of this, and treated him horribly for it. He was forsaken in his own family. Perhaps you have been hated and forsaken by your family for no good reason. Do not give up on becoming the person God wants you to be.
Joseph’s brothers eventually had enough of this 'dreamer'. One day they were so angry with him that they plotted to kill him. One of the brothers stopped them, and they put him in a pit, until they decided to sell him off to some traveling slave owners. They flipped their own brother for money. Have you ever been sold out by someone who should have had your back? Don’t become resentful.
The people who bought Joseph took him to Egypt, where he was sold into the household of Potiphar, a military man who was attached to the king’s guard. The Bible says that God was with Joseph, and he placed His favor on him. This caused Joseph to succeed in Potiphar’s house, to the point that he put Joseph in charge of his entire home. But Potiphar’s wife had an eye for Joseph. She tried to seduce him to commit adultery with her. The Bible tells us Joseph was handsome and well built. But he was also a man of character and integrity. He would not sleep with the master’s wife. Eventually, after he denied her pressure, she falsely accused Joseph of taking advantage of her. This got Joseph thrown into prison. Have you ever been falsely accused? It is more debilitating than taking your lumps for actual sins. Don’t become bitter.
In prison, God continued to give favor to Joseph, and once again he rose to leadership. During his time there, a couple of the king’s attendants were also thrown into prison. They both had dreams and Joseph interpreted them. One of the dreams revealed that one man was going to be released back to the palace to serve the king. Joseph asked him to remember him when he was free. Two years later… Joseph is still in prison. Have you ever been forgotten by people for whom you did something good? Don’t become jaded.
At some point the king had some dreams, and word came to him that Joseph is good at deciphering dreams. Joseph brought God’s word to the king, was released from prison, and given a position as second in command over the entire country.
Lessons to learn from Joseph
It is a long way from the pit to the palace. And it sometimes leads through prison. There were certainly days when Joseph felt overwhelmed and lost. He had been forsaken, flipped, falsely accused, and forgotten by the closest people in his life. But his life was not defined by the failure of others. It was defined by these three things:
Joseph was faithful – He did not curse God. He trusted that God’s vision of him would come true.
Joseph was focused – He did not succumb to the temptation of sin. He did not allow his problems to degrade his integrity.
Joseph was forgiving – He did not hold a grudge against the people who hurt him. When the time came to be reunited with his brothers, he did not make them pay for their sins. He forgave them saying, “You planned evil against me; God planned it for good to bring about the present result—the survival of many people.” (Genesis 50:20)
Joseph’s childhood dream carried him through a lot of trouble. But God used the dreams of another person to take him to the place he was supposed to be. In the process, Joseph was able to save two nations. You may have dreamed that your life would go differently than it has. Do not give up. Don’t let your circumstances define you. Jesus was also forsaken by His family, flipped by a friend, falsely accused by the people He served, forgotten in His darkest hour, and yet He was faithful, focused and forgiving... as you can be today.
Joseph's story can be found in Genesis 37-50.
[Bible quotes are from the Holman Christian Standard Bible, unless otherwise noted.]
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