Bad to Worse


Genesis 39-41.  Joseph, great-grandson of Abraham, is sold into slavery by jealous half brothers and carried to Egypt where Potiphar, Pharaoh’s captain of the guard, buys him.  He prospered even though a foreigner but caught the eye of Potiphar’s wife.  When he refused to sleep with her, he was accused of molesting her and sent to prison.  Sometimes doing what is right does not mean a person will be found innocent.  In prison he accurately interprets the dreams of two prisoners.  One is hanged but the other is released and forgets Joseph.  His own dreams do not seem to be ever going to come tr

         I suspect this last year as people have lost jobs, not been able to pay rent, and had to supervise children studying at home, many have doubted that God was in control or had a good plan for their lives. Hard times test us physically, socially, emotionally and spiritually.  Joseph, who had experienced all the perks of being the favorite child and the gifted child, now has to dig inside himself and decide what he is made of.  It would seem that during these trials, he remembered those stories he heard from his father and grandfather about God’s faithfulness and about principle’s of integrity.  The Bible encourages us to raise a child in the way he should go and when he is old he won’t depart from it.  When Potiphar’s wife solicits Joseph and invites him to bed, Joseph knows within himself that it is wrong.  Joseph responds to the temptation, “My master has withheld nothing from me except you, because you are his wife.  How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?”  Joseph knows he is ultimately answering to God.  Joseph is transforming from that cocky youth into a man of integrity as the difficult times help him sort out his values and priorities.

         We see that in prison, Joseph again rises to a position of responsibility even as a criminal.  It reminds me of Invictus and the conviction that jail can rob me of freedom but it cannot rob me of my “invincible soul.”  Joseph could have whined, “Unfair.”  He could have lashed out and taken it out on a weaker prisoner.  He could have caved in to depression and committed suicide.  He could have blamed God.  But he did none of these.  He pressed on centering his life on the truth of God as he knew it and trusting that our epic hero, God, has a plan that is being worked out.

         So how do we respond when bad turns to worse?  When the chips are down, where do we turn?  I love the Lamaz advice to relax and focus your mind on a favorite memory or Bible verse as the pain of the contractions increases because the mind can only focus on one thing.  I love James 1:2-5,  

         “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face     trials of many kinds because you know that the testing of your faith         produces perseverance.  Let perseverance finish its work so that you        may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.  If any of you    lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all          without finding fault, and it will be given to you.”

Whatever trial you are facing today, you are not alone.  God is there even when it is so dark you cannot see him!

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