Sunday, as we looked at Joseph’s life in Genesis 37-50, I raised the question about how we deal with adversity. Adversity forces us to deal with some very important questions, and it seems that adversity is connected to knowing God and His Word (See Psalm 119).
So, the question is: What Happens to What Happens to You? That is, what do you do to the undesired and unplanned affliction that comes your way?
What does affliction mean about you? Does it mean you’ve been bad, or that you’ve failed?
What does it mean about God and his love? Does it mean that God does not love you, or that he is not able to intervene, or that he is uninterested in your life or not hearing your prayers, or that he’s judging you?
What messages do you attach to affliction in your life or in your family? How is your response to affliction instructing your family about God?
Where does affliction lead in your life? To a better you or a bitter you?
Here are the first few verses of Joseph’s story.
37:2 …Joseph, being seventeen years old, was pasturing the flock with his brothers…brought a bad report of them to their father. 3 Now Israel loved Joseph more than any other of his sons, because he was the son of his old age. And he made him a robe of many colors. 4 But when his brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers, they hated him and could not speak peacefully to him.
Joseph needed to grow in character. At 17 years old he acted like a spoiled brat who was favored by his father. That favoritism and his brashness in retelling his dreams created hatred among his brothers who sold him as a slave. Through suffering multiple acts of injustice over a 13-year period, Joseph grew in character. The 17-year-old Joseph did not use his authority to serve his brothers and had no time for troublemakers, but after 13 years of suffering, the 30-year-old Joseph had developed compassion and he “attended” or “ministered to” the prisoners or troublemakers under his charge (see Gen. 40:4).
We also see character development in how he interacted with others. He grew from a brash and naïve youth who, although he did no manual labor himself, freely reported about the character flaws of his brothers to his father. Later in life he had learned to be more measured and wiser in his dealings with others as evidenced by his skillful interaction with his brothers in Egypt and with Pharaoh himself.
So, Joseph needed to grow in character. Do you?
How did Joseph answer this question: What Happens to What Happens to You?
20 As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.
Joseph said what happens to him comes from the hand of God. Joseph was open to God’s work in the middle of his pain. That included a painful work in his own soul. While he cleverly probed his brothers to discern if they had grown in character, he is the one that had grown in character and wisdom the most. Sadly, it was the obvious lack of character growth that brought tears to his eyes in the final scene with his brothers; “Joseph wept when they spoke to him” (Gen. 50:17).
So, how will you respond to What Happens to What Happens to You today?