TRUSTING GOD THROUGH DISCOURAGING TIMES
As I studied the story of Joseph yesterday, I was struck by his faithfulness in the midst of horrible circumstances. As we go through life, we often find ourselves in less than optimal situations, these are the times that we must remain faithful to God, just as Joseph did. We start life with many expectations and often these expectations go unmet and we face discouragement. Too often, we allow discouragement to give way to poor decision making or retaliatory behavior that can be self destructive. Joseph remained faithful to God and his faithfulness paid off in a big way.
Joseph spent the first 17 years of his life like a pampered prince. He was the favorite son out of 10 before him and his father gave him special treatment. This led to the resentment of his brothers and at the age of 17, Joseph's brothers sold him into slavery. This could certainly have led to Joseph becoming discouraged. Joseph's life expectations were to grow up in a life of privilege and to rule over the rest of his family. Joseph did not allow discouragement to determine his behavior. As a slave, he did his best and remained faithful to God. Soon, he found himself the head slave in wealthy man's home.
Joseph now had a new set of expectations, he should now expect a life of responsibility and honor over his fellow servants and trust and respect from his master. Joseph's master, Potiphar, trusted Joseph over his entire household. Unfortunately, Potiphar's wife also took a strong liking to Joseph, but Joseph demonstrated his faithfulness to God by not allowing his master's wife to seduce him. Joseph did what was right and the result was he was falsely accused of rape and imprisoned. Once again, Joseph did not realize the expectations he had for his future and, once again, Joseph had seemingly legitimate cause to become discouraged. Joseph did not become discouraged, but instead, he remained faithful to God and was given responsibility and honor within the prison system.
For 13 years, Joseph was enslaved or in prison, undoubtedly wondering what God's plan could possibly be for him. For 13 years Joseph, instead of becoming discouraged and self destructive, made the best of his situation and trusted God. When the opportunity came for him to interpret a dream for Pharaoh, Joseph gave glory and honor to God. God blessed Joseph's faithfulness and elevated Joseph to second in command over all Egypt and 9 years later, reunited him with his family in the land of Egypt. Joseph did not get instant gratification, many years went by before he was able to see the blessings of God through his faithfulness.
We sometimes find ourselves in a place we do not want to be. Life sometimes goes left when we think it should go right. When we think we deserve something and we do not get it, our expectations go unmet. These are all situations where we are ripe for discouragement and all the negative behavior and thinking that goes along with it. Bad choices and behavior are often the cause of life not going as expected. Whether those bad choices or behaviors are our own or that of someone else is irrelevant in the grand scheme of things, we are still responsible for our response to that situation.
Discouragement, if allowed to take root, will cause irrational thoughts to seem rational and allow for unproductive and sometimes destructive thoughts and behavior. When we rebel against our circumstances, we are really rebelling against God and demonstrating that we no longer trust His judgment over our lives. Had Joseph not encountered a series of unmet expectations, he would not have been in position to rule the land of Egypt and save his family from starvation. I can attest to the fact that when I find myself in a scenario that I would not have chosen, it is usually a vehicle which God is using to move me into a particular situation that is better than the situation I was in originally.
Brother or sister, if you are in a place that you would not have chosen, if you are currently living in the middle on unmet expectations you had for life, if it seems nothing ever goes right for you I encourage you, God encourages you, to remain faithful. God has a plan for you and a desire to bless others through you. God loves you tremendously as demonstrated by His sacrifice on the cross. You are precious to God and He will lead you to the place of refreshing. The LORD has preserved for us the account of Joseph that we may see His faithfulness even when it seems we are abandoned. Joseph did not receive instant gratification, it took 22 years before he was elevated and restored to his family. The key is that he was lifted up and did experience restoration. Whatever you are suffering, God is in the midst of it with you. The Bible tells us to "Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understandings, in ALL YOUR WAYS acknowledge Him and he will direct your path."
God loves you and is with you even when you feel the most alone, fear not for God is with you!