By all counts, Joseph's life had been going well. Then it turned sour. Jealousy and hatred drove his brothers to conspire to murder him; they ended up relegating him to a living death, selling him for 20 pieces of silver to slave traders. No doubt, all of Joseph's plans and dreams were shattered. Ripped from his home and his beloved father, he was now alone, a slave in a pagan land. He had every right to be angry and bitter.
Turning it around
The redeeming moment in Joseph's story came years later in his famous declaration to his brothers, "You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good." (Genesis 50:20, NASB).
This is worth meditating on. God "meant" it for good? How can this be? God was at work even in the midst of evil actions? Of course He was. This phenomenal truth is a common thread throughout Scripture. Not only is it recorded in the past, in the lives of many significant players in God's story, but it is also a reality of the future — recorded in chapters that promise both good and bad news, joy and pain. Consider these prophetic moments:
A fallen world
The cosmic consequences of Adam's sin wreak havoc on our lives from birth to death. Sometimes bad things come from our own foolish actions. Sometimes they come directly or indirectly from the actions of others. Sometimes they come from a world writhing in its own death throes.
However crises come to us, they will surely come. Knowing this simple reality beforehand is a big part of the solution, because it is difficult in the midst of powerful emotions to dwell upon the truth of God's sovereignty.
That is why it is critical for God's people to prepare themselves for the inevitable. Recognize the reality of the fallen world you live in. There are going to be moments when you will hit serious bumps. Prepare yourself while it is easier to plant the truth of God in your heart.
Here are a few of His truths that will keep you grounded during hardships:
Anger and bitterness usually come when we begin to buy the world's mantra that "it's all about me." We write our own script, and when something messes with it, we get angry, bitter or depressed.
The best preparation for difficult times is a heart and mind ready with the truth of God. If we're prepared, then all we need is the comfort of a close brother or sister who will pray with us and gently recall the faithfulness of God and His promises.
Ever feel like you need to wear a mask to cover up who you are? Are you concerned that, if people knew who you really are and how you really felt, they wouldn't understand?
One minister, two jobs and the family that's at the top of the list. The number of bivocational ministers, those in full- or part-time ministry who carry an additional job, is estimated by some researchers to be as high as 30 percent of ministers nationwide.
"You should see the church they attend," Lucille said, armed with bulletin and newsletter. Creases formed across my brow as celebration gave way to comparisons a trap that had sprung too many times.