Through Times of Trial
If anyone had ample opportunity to become embittered by life’s trials, it was Joseph. His brothers treated him with contempt even before they tossed him into a pit. Then, over the course of a few years, he was sold into slavery, transported to a foreign land, framed for a crime, and left to waste away in prison. Despite all the injustice he suffered, this boy who grew up in bondage became a man of diligent work ethic and gentle spirit.
It’s almost impossible to understand how Joseph could seem so forgiving, peaceful, and even joyful. His secret to maintaining grace under pressure was a constant focus on God. He must have spent many hours recalling Jacob’s stories about the Lord’s faithfulness to their family—and also the divine revelations about his own future as a leader (Gen. 37:8-9). In spite of his many afflictions, Joseph trusted that those God-given dreams would become reality.
Imagine what kind of man could have emerged from 13 years of suffering and injustice. Had Joseph dwelled on his unfair circumstances, he’d likely have become cynical and vengeful. With a mind full of escape plots and revenge tactics, a man cannot be a good worker—so instead of achieving greatness, Joseph would probably have toiled at unfulfilling menial tasks.
With his spiritual “eyes” trained on God’s glory, Joseph persevered through great trials. In the end, he certainly had the power to punish his brothers for their treachery, but he chose to forgive. That decision probably wasn’t an easy one. Yet because Joseph placed himself under God’s protection, his heart was unhindered by negative emotions.
Extra column— On Adversity
“Seeing that a Pilot steers the ship in which we sail, who will never allow us to perish even in the midst of shipwrecks, there is no reason why our minds should be overwhelmed with fear and overcome with weariness.”
“Adversity is the diamond dust heaven polishes its jewels with.”
“They gave our Master a crown of thorns. Why do we hope for a crown of roses?”
“God’s people have no assurances that the dark experiences of life will be held at bay, much less that God will provide some sort of running commentary on the meaning of each day’s allotment of confusion, boredom, pain, or achievement. It is no great matter where we are, provided we see that the Lord has placed us there, and that He is with us.”
“Bless you, prison, for having been in my life. The meaning of earthly existence lies, not as we have grown used to thinking, in prospering, but in the development of the soul.”
“As children of a sovereign God, we are never victims of our circumstances.”
—Dr. Charles Stanley
“At the timberline where the storms strike with the most fury, the sturdiest trees are found.”
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