Monday, 14 January 2013 16:59

Counseling from the Life of Joseph

Written by  Brenda Payne
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As a counselor, I often meet with troubled people. Sometimes, the difficulties they face are a result of their own sinful choices. In such cases it is necessary to call them to repentance and obedience.  But other times, the women I counsel are living uprightly yet facing misery at the hands of sinful people (or circumstances beyond their control). She may be a respectful and submissive wife whose husband is increasingly difficult to live with. She may be a godly single woman whose prospects for a husband are growing grim. Or, it could be a mom who has given her life to the biblical instruction of her children only to face a rebellious teenager. It is one thing to suffer as a result of our own sin, but what if we are “playing by the rules” and still suffer?  We tend to operate under the assumption that if we are “good” than God owes us: He will reward us with good or at least keep us from harm. How are we to view things when even in our obedience we are assaulted with misery and misfortune?

Joseph is the one truly upright patriarch you will find in the book of Genesis (Chapters 37-50). Every other patriarch has obvious character flaws, but Joseph is a man who fears God and yet faces many hardships and setbacks. Joseph’s life seems to epitomize the saying, “no good deed goes unpunished”.  Let’s take a look.


First of all in Genesis 37, we learn that Joseph was the favorite of his father’s 12 sons. His father’s partiality produced animosity between him and his brothers. While on an errand, in obedience to his father, Joseph is captured by his brothers who schemed to kill him but ultimately decided to sell him into slavery.  The slave traders took him to Egypt (a pagan and foreign land) and sold him to a high ranking officer (Potiphar) where Joseph becomes “a successful man” overseeing the household.  The Bible indicates that Joseph was quite a “stud”, so much so that his boss’s wife wanted to take him to bed.  She pressured him day after day, but he resisted the temptation (Chapter 39).  And what did he get for his righteous stand? A false accusation and a prison sentence!  Joseph must have been an outstanding inmate because the prison warden placed him in charge of the prisoners. In the dungeon, Joseph interpreted dreams for the king’s cupbearer and baker. He asked them one favor, “Only remember me...mention me to Pharaoh, and so get me out of this house.”   The dreams came true but the cupbearer forgot to keep his promise to Joseph! Two years later, when Pharaoh needed his dreams interpreted, the cupbearer remembered Joseph who was promptly brought before Pharaoh to interpret his dreams (Genesis 41).  Joseph was immediately exalted to a position of authority over all Egypt, second only to Pharaoh himself. God used Joseph to prepare the Egyptians for a devastating famine.  Joseph’s brothers eventually came to Egypt for food and faced their long lost brother. Ultimately, God used all the events in Joseph’s life to preserve His people and the line of the coming Savior (Genesis 42-45).  What are some take away points?


1. It is sometimes God’s will that we endure suffering at the hands of sinners. Some of those sinners will be blinded to how their sin is hurting us (Joseph’s father and the cupbearer) and others will be very deliberate (Joseph’s brothers and Potiphar’s wife).


2.  Remember that our obedience does not make God our debtor nor is it a promise for a trouble free life. Jesus was perfect and endured the worst suffering imaginable. 


 3.  We need to continue to walk by faith in God’s promises and not by sight.  Author Jerry Bridges says, “Faith is obeying God and trusting Him for the result, believes God is fully able to do all He has promised, and believes the promise of God is as real as the circumstances you are in, even if the circumstances seem to contradict the promises.”


4. We need to remember the character of God---especially while suffering.  The Scripture tells us that God was with Joseph, He gave him favor, He showed him steadfast love, and was orchestrating all the events of his life to fulfill His purposes.


5. We need to fear the disapproval of God more than the disapproval of man. How did Potiphar know the success of his household was due to Joseph’s walk with the Lord?  Joseph must have told him!  Joseph told Potiphar’s wife he could not sin against God. He told the cupbearer, the baker and even Pharaoh that dreams come from God alone. And, he acknowledged before his brothers God’s purposes in his suffering.


6. We need to look for and see God’s mercies in our pain. Joseph did not die in the pit.  He was not executed for his alleged sexual misconduct. His prison dream interpretations led to his audience before Pharaoh.  His suffering served to save his family and nation. There was mercy for him and for others that was not readily apparent in the midst of his trials.


7. We need to guard our hearts against bitterness by trusting that God is in control of the good as well as the bad in our lives. Joseph embraced his brothers with joy and did not seek revenge for their murderous actions.


8. We need to continue to faithfully execute our duties in the midst of where ever God has us and look to be a blessing to those who are around us. Joseph was consistently given more responsibility and served those who were over him and under him.


9. We need to remember that God is as interested in the means as He is the ends. Oftentimes, we just want to get to the end of our suffering but God is using all the in between places to mature us and prepare us for better service.


10. Finally, We need to remember that Joseph points us to our greatest example of suffering, Jesus Christ.  (1 Peter 2:21-23)

The next time you are wronged, recount the life of Joseph and see how many ways you can find to correctly respond to your trouble. Then, read the gospels and consider how Jesus endured unjust suffering. Pray fervently that God will give you grace to follow these great examples in your own life!


Last modified on Monday, 14 January 2013 17:07
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