Joseph is one of my favorite Old Testament characters. The book of Genesis chapters 37 – 50 tells the remarkable story of his life. As a young boy of 17 he was the favored son in a family of 12 boys. His father had given him a magnificent colored coat to show him how much he was loved. If you have read this powerful story you will know that his brothers were enraged with jealousy and they threw him into a pit leaving him to die. Some foreigners rescued him and eventually he found himself imprisoned in Egypt. We can read these few chapters in less than an hour and the incredible force of the story is lost on us.
Here was a young boy who was taken out of his secure family environment and forcefully taken to Egypt. It was a foreign land and one can only imagine how strange and frightening this experience must have been for him. He served in Potiphar’s house and then an unjust incident with Potiphar’s wife landed this innocent man in prison. What a story! But, there are some valuable lessons we can take from Joseph’s life. If your experience is currently one of hardship and bitterness then there are lessons from the life of Joseph that could help you.
1. God protected Joseph through his bitter days: As you read the book of Genesis it is so evident that God was protecting Joseph through each season of his life. He did not deserve what he was going through, but it is evident he had a deep sense that God was protecting him. Nowhere do you read that bitterness ever entered Joseph’s soul. His experience was bitter and hard, but his heart remained sweet and soft.
2. His bitter days became stepping-stone to a bright future: Instead of his bitter days holding him back they did just the opposite – they became wonderful steps to his future. In the 17th Century John Bunyan was imprisoned in England for preaching God’s Word. He stayed in jail for 12 years. John Bunyan did not allow that bitter experience to hinder him. During those years of captivity he wrote Pilgrim’s Progress, which is an allegory of the Christian life. Only the Bible has sold more copies than his book. His bitter days were used wisely and we are still the beneficiaries of that time.
3. His future was successful because of the way he handled his bitterness: You never read of Joseph becoming bitter in any way. You only sense his deep dependence upon God. Joseph knew that if his life was to have purpose and meaning he needed to keep a sweet and open spirit. God honored Joseph and prospered him and eventually he rose to a position of incredible prominence in the land of his captivity.
If you are in the midst of a bitter experience, take courage my friend; others have been on that pathway before. Your bitter days will get better and if you keep your heart right they can lead you to your best days ever! May God encourage your heart today!
I am and always will be,
Recklessly abandoned, ruthlessly committed and in relentless pursuit of Jesus,