Posted by: glorifyhim1 | February 18, 2013

In the Rough Places

As I am sure that most readers will agree, sometimes life is just hard! The source of our difficulties may stem from personal choices that have created seemingly insurmountable problems. Or they may be the result of problems, losses, and personal tragedies that are totally outside of our ability to avoid or control. Either way, at such times life can seem more than difficult. It can seem next to impossible.

While I can recall some rough places in my own life, I don’t think any of my experiences can compare to the rough places that Joseph, the son of Jacob, endured (Genesis 37, 39-40). Consider a few of Joseph’s rough places.

  • He was hated by his brothers.
  • He was thrown into any empty pit by his brothers and then sold to Midianite traders.
  • The Midianite traders sold him to Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh in Egypt, as a slave.
  • He was falsely accused by Potiphar’s wife of attempted rape and was thrown into prison.
  • He was forgotten in prison even after he interpreted the dream of the chief butler who was later released.

Any one of these situations could definitely qualify for being in a rough place. But what impresses me is not how difficult these situations were, but how Joseph responded in each one. Joseph did not allow the difficulty or the unjustness of the various situations to determine his reaction.

Genesis 37:4 tells us: “But when his brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers, they hated him and could not speak peaceably to him.” They hated him even more when he told them his dreams that they would bow down and serve him. Joseph undoubtedly knew that he was hated. While we have no way of knowing whether or not Joseph may have flaunted his favored position, nothing in Scripture indicates that he returned any type of hatred toward his brothers. Likewise, nothing indicates that he used the friction between them to try to avoid what his father told him to do (see Genesis 37:13).

Similarly, Joseph quickly won the favor of Potiphar as he worked in his house. The Scriptures tell us that Joseph found favor in his sight and that Potiphar made him overseer of his house, and that he put him over all that he had. It appears that instead of bemoaning his condition, perhaps even attempting to escape, he faithfully did what he was told. And even more, he excelled in all that he did. Potiphar trusted him so much that he put Joseph over all that he had.

Even after being falsely accused of rape and thrown into jail, it appears that Joseph continued to do whatever was expected of him. Genesis 39:22-23a states: “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…” Once again, instead of turning to complaining and bitterness, or doing things to betray his position of trust, Joseph served faithfully in the prison.

Do you see the pattern? Although treated unfairly and wrongly, Joseph continued to faithfully perform whatever work he had to do. It makes me think about my own reaction when things don’t go the way I expect or think they should, or when I feel that I have been treated unfairly or even unjustly. Do I always remain faithful and continue the work I have to do, or do I respond in any of the following ways?

  • Do I give in to anger?
  • Do I try to get even?
  • Do I take out my need for revenge on others – sometimes even those who have nothing to do with my situation?
  • Do I fuss and complain?
  • Do I withdraw and become bitter?
  • Do I do as little as I can to get by?
  • Do I do as much as I can to cause trouble?

The Scriptures also mention something else during Joseph’s rough times. Notice the following.

  • When Joseph was sold as a slave in Egypt: “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” (Genesis 39:2-3).
  • When Joseph was falsely accused of rape and thrown into 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” (Genesis 39:21).

God was with Joseph when he was thrown into the pit. He was with Joseph when he was sold to the Midianite traders and when he became a slave in Egypt. He was with him in jail when Joseph was falsely accused. God did not leave Joseph, but He stayed with him when Joseph was in his rough places.

And the same is true for us as well. God is fully aware of every situation we face and every trial we are going through. And His Word assures us that He will be with us in our rough places. “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1). The degree to which believe in God’s presence and help will help determine our reaction as well. If we can fully relinquish our situation to God and truly trust Him to work things out according to His plan, we will be better able to keep on keeping on and remain faithful in our rough places.

“Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.”

(1 Peter 5:6-7)

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