When a trial comes your way, do you groan and think of it as an ordeal to muddle through? Is your first reaction fear and dread, or do you see each new struggle with more positive eyes? The love of Jesus can shed light on your difficulties and bring about a change in your perspective. Trials are actually opportunities chock full of hidden blessings.
“Attitude is the difference between an ordeal and an adventure.” – Anonymous
Consider the story of Joseph. He was betrayed by his brothers and sold into slavery. He was forced to live in a foreign land without family.
“Now Joseph had been taken down to Egypt. And Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, captain of the guard, an Egyptian, bought him from the Ishmaelites who had taken him down there. The Lord was with Joseph, and he was a successful man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian. And his master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord made all he did to prosper in his hand. So Joseph found favor in his sight, and served him. Then he made him overseer of his house, and all that he had he put under his authority.” Genesis 39:1-4 (NKJV)
One might think Joseph had suffered enough by this time and that God would continue to bless him in the home of Potiphar. Maybe Joseph was content with his position as his master’s overseer. But God had bigger plans for Joseph, a bigger house for him to oversee, so He continued to test and refine him.
Joseph caught the eye of Potiphar’s wife, who aggressively pursued him and asked for sexual favors. Unwilling to lie with her, he ran from temptation. Because of Joseph’s righteousness and unwillingness to sin, he found himself in the middle of a new trial. Although He had been kidnapped, made to live as a slave in a foreign land, was absent from all family support, he was sent to prison …. But the Lord’s favor followed him.
“So it was, when his master heard the words which his wife spoke to him, saying, ‘Your servant did to me after this manner,’ that his anger was aroused. Then Joseph’s master took him and put him into the prison, a place where the king’s prisoners were confined. And he was there in the prison.
But the Lord was with Joseph and showed him mercy, and He gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison. And the keeper of the prison committed to Joseph’s hand all the prisoners who were in the prison; whatever they did there, it was his doing. The keeper of the prison did not look into anything that was under Joseph’s authority,because the Lord was with him; and whatever he did, the Lord made it prosper.” Genesis 39:19-23 (NKJV)
So once again Joseph found himself in a position of leadership and authority with responsibilities he never asked for or expected. God was using difficult circumstances to sharpen the spiritual gifts within Joseph. Leadership requires the ability to gain the trust of others. Adversity will try to rob us of our hope but Joseph persevered. He gained wisdom from living through his struggles, and because of his perseverance and faith, he later became a man many would follow and respect.
After some time in prison, Pharaoh called Joseph to his throne room to interpret a troublesome dream. The Lord provided Joseph with insight and was given the Pharaoh’s favor. After years of slavery and prison life, Joseph was given the unexpected honor of overseeing the Pharaoh’s entire house. He was only 30 years old.
Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Inasmuch as God has shown you all this, there is no one as discerning and wise as you. You shall be over my house, and all my people shall be ruled according to your word; only in regard to the throne will I be greater than you.” And Pharaoh said to Joseph, “See, I have set you over all the land of Egypt.” Genesis 41:39-40 (NKJV)
The Pharaoh’s dream spoke of 7 years of feast and 7 years of famine. Joseph was placed in charge of collecting grain and storing it for the lean years ahead.
Joseph married and had children. He saw how God had blessed him but there were even more blessings to come. The drought was affecting his homeland and his brothers went to Egypt seeking resources. Joseph recognized them and was able to help. God restored his family relationships and also blessed him with position, wealth, and honor.
The Word calls a man blessed, if he can remain steadfast under a trial (Js.1:12). By withstanding the test in front of him he will receive the crown of life. This crown is promised to those who love God. It is rewarded to believers who endure suffering and remain faithful to God, even to the point of death. There are eternal rewards for remaining steadfast in faith.
We do not know all the twists and turns in our spiritual journey but God does, and He has a very good plan on how to use us. Joseph did not know the reasons for all his trouble but he remained faithful. As a child, the Lord gave Joseph a hint of his future position but never any details. Through tests and much suffering, God refined Joseph into a man of integrity and faith.
Why not take your present adversity and consider it as a stepping-stone to a hidden blessing from God? It took God some time to prepare Joseph for his position. Your refinement will take time too. Have faith in your Lord. There are blessings in each day and in your future. Above all, glorify God in good times and bad times, just like Joseph.
“I can do all things through Christ[ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13 (NKJV)
“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you willhave tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 (NKJV)
“Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.” James 1:12 (NKJV)
“Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.” Revelation 2:10 (NKJV)
“The remarkable thing is, we have a choice everyday regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day.” ~ Chuck Swindoll