Most of us have heard of the compelling and encouraging story of Joseph. For those who have, it finds its way to become our to-go story of finding hope, faith and encouragement to weather the storms, challenges, persecutions and trials that we may be facing. As we think about how God came through for Joseph, we gain a resolve and become steadfast knowing that, that same God will come through for us so mightily.
Yet, there is an often overlooked part of the story of Joseph that plays a very vital role in our Christian life; his attitude towards his brothers when he became prime minister. I would dare say that when he was sold as a slave by his brothers, Joseph felt very hurt and betrayed by the people he trusted and whom he looked up to. Even in the land of Egypt, he had many occasions to blame them for his woes because if they hadn’t sold him into slavery he wouldn’t have been in Potipher’s house and neither would there have been chance for him to be imprisoned because of Potipher’s wife.
We all have our Joseph-in-slavery moments, where we look back at some of the things we are currently dealing with and it is easy for us to place blame on someone or something outside of us which led to us being in that predicament. We spend so much time in that state that we fail learn the lessons that God is trying to teach us through that experience. Yet that did not happen with Joseph; he recognized that it was not his brothers who brought him to the land of Egypt but rather God sent him ahead of his brothers to preserve them. The Bible says, “So he was alone with his brothers when he told them who he was. Then he broke down and wept. And he said again, ‘I am Joseph, your brother, whom you sold into slavery in Egypt. But don’t be upset, and don’t be angry with yourselves for selling me to this place. It was God who sent me here ahead of you to preserve your lives. God has sent me ahead of you to keep you and your families alive and to preserve many survivors. So it was God who sent me here, not you! And he is the one who made me an adviser to Pharaoh—the manager of his entire palace and the governor of all Egypt'” [Genesis 45:1-2,4-5,7-8, NLT].
Joseph’s response is simply amazing! It seems that Joseph actually seems thankful that his brothers sold him into slavery! Of course he would not have been happy about the process that got him to being a prime minister, but now he had perspective to know that it was all part of God’s plan to save his family. That is why even though Joseph as prime minister had the power to let his brothers pay severely for the atrocity they put him through he rather comforted, assured and consoled his brothers when he revealed himself to them. Joseph had come to understand something about having a relationship with God; nothing was outside His touch and every circumstance that we face, whether good or bad works out for our good. That is why the Bible tells us over and over to give thanks to God in all things. We only see a limited snap shot of the bigger picture which God sees. Indeed, it was God who sent Joseph to Egypt and not his brothers. The Bible says, “Then he [God] sent someone to Egypt ahead of them— Joseph, who was sold as a slave. They bruised his feet with fetters and placed his neck in an iron collar. Until the time came to fulfill his dreams,the Lord tested Joseph’s character” [Psalm 105:17-19, NLT].
The Bible says “The Lord tested Joseph’s character”. That is the key thing to remember because where there is a dream (in Joseph’s case he had 2), there will be a testing of your character for where God is taking you to. Usually the testing of your character will come through people and circumstances. That is why we ought to “Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way” [James 1:2-4, The MSG].
As a Christian understand that God is working ALL things out together for your good, so give thanks. Give thanks for that boss, co-worker, child, friend, spouse, family member, acquaintance, immigration issues, finances, health issues, etc that is part of the plan to test your faith. Give thanks because when your faith has been proved God will elevate and promote you to that level of Glory that is taking you to. Give thanks because it is the attitude of gratitude that makes the difference.