These past few days I've found myself thinking quite a bit about character, trials, and perseverence.
Just bear with me with what I'm about to write, not sure how smoothly it'll come out or how many rabbit trails I may run into, but I promise, there is a point, and if you hang in there with me, you'll see :)
I think it's safe to say we've all been through hard times. I think especially lately, we are seeing more and more broken hearts, maybe we're just learning to be honest, or maybe pain really has increased.Whatever the case may be, the matter of the fact is that pain is real.
I was reading the story about a man named Joseph and as I read I reflected back on my own life, my own trials, how I've handled the situations, and where I have failed to have character amidst them.
How I've handled my trials (the way not to):
Throughout my suffering I have complained, been bitter, unforgiving, angry, hopeless, helpless, selfish.
All of a sudden, the whole world had become about my suffering. Everything changed because of it. My love for people changed into isolation, my heart grew hard, I lacked patience. Often times I just wanted to give up! I didn't want to live anymore or be here on earth. I felt like there was no point in living.
Why am I saying this? Because I've realized, I've gotten it all wrong.
An example of getting it right?
Joseph. Joseph was the youngest of 12 brothers, born to Jacob, also known as Israel. Joseph was Israel's favorite son and obviously, that made the other brothers jealous of him. At a young age, God had given Joseph a dream where all his brothers would bow before him. He decided to tell his brothers his dream. I don't think that was a smart move, and perhaps it showed a bit of arrogance on his part.
Anyways, his brothers were out in the field one day and his dad asked Joseph to go attend and see, when his brothers saw him walking over they had so much hatred in their heart for him they wanted to murder him. Instead he was sold into slavery.
Picture with me, 11 other brothers, ganging up on you, filled with hatred for you, throw you in a ditch, and after sell you as a slave. What would you feel at that very moment?? As I write the story I ask you to put yourself in Joseph's shoes and try to imagine what he must have been feeling. Would you have felt unloved, hopeless, fearful? I would have.
I heard someone say, ""The humility of being a slave tempers Joseph." I never thought about it. But perhaps Joseph was a little prideful in his youth and before God could do anything with him there were a few changes that needed to be made. So this horrible situation was just part of God's bigger plan.
After, Joseph was sold as a slave to the Pharaoh's official, Potipher. What character Joseph must have had. From being his fathers favorite, to becoming a slave, Joseph was not a man that focused on the negative. Instead everything he did, God blessed. Potipher saw this and put Joseph in charge of all his household and did not have to worry about anything.
Okay so it looks like things are getting better right? Do you ever feel when things are going good something always comes to mess it up??
Well, Potiphers wife started to fancy Joseph and started coming onto him day after day asking Joseph to sleep with her. She must have been beautiful because all of the people of importance had beautiful women. Day after day Joseph refused. ""With me in charge," he told her, "my master does not concern himself with anything in the house; everything he owns he has entrusted to my care. 9 No one is greater in this house than I am. My master has withheld nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?" 10 And though she spoke to Joseph day after day, he refused to go to bed with her or even be with her." (Genesis 39:8-10). To refuse such temptation, he was a man of character who feared the Lord.
One day he was working and all the servants were out of the building and the wife came in and caught him a lone and grabbed him by his cloak and asked him again to sleep with her, he refused her and ran away. She kept his cloak and accused him of trying to sleep with her. Potipher then had Joseph thrown in prison.
Please imagine with me this scenario, so I do the right thing and I still get punished?? I might have just gotten a tad bit upset with God and questioned why he was doing all this to me. I'd ask what I did to deserve this, but not Joseph. Again his character shines, because Joseph found favor with the prison guard and the prison guard appointed Jospeh as the head of all the prisoners and he trusted everything to Joseph. Joseph was in the prison for TWO years!!! In those two years, two prisoners came in and they both had dreams and God allowed Joseph to interpret those dreams. When the pharaoh was troubled by his dream, one of the prisoners that had been freed remembered of Joseph and told the Pharoah. Joseph then interpretted Pharaoh's dream and Pharaoh saw that God was with Joseph and appointed him over all of Egypt!!
Throughout this time there was a famine all over and people were coming to Egypt to get grains. Josephs brothers came to get food, but they did not recognize Joseph. Joseph remembered them.
A lot in the middle happend but I'm going to get to a major point.
Joseph had mercy on them and told them, ""Don't be afraid. Am I in the place of God? 20 You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. 21 So then, don't be afraid. I will provide for you and your children." And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them." (Genesis 50:19-21).
Wow to know that all of your suffering was for a purpose! To not be revengeful towards those who wished you so much harm and hatred, instead to just love them, save them, and provide for them!
There's no way anyone can do this without God!
but I'm here to tell you, sometimes we may not understand why we are suffering, and at that moment, it seems as though there is no light at the end of the tunnel, but if we have faith in God and know that God has an amazing plan, perhaps, in the midst of our trials, we shall be a woman of character, whom people may look at us in our lowly condition but see something different, something worthy of honor, a heart that is faithful in God.
One of my favorite scriptures from the story of Joseph is "It is because God has made me fruitful in the land of my suffering."Genesis 41:52.
I hope you were able to read all the way through, and if not it's better to go to the real source. The story of Joseph is from Genesis 37-50.
As I read his story I just saw the comparison of how he handled his trials and how i have so wrongly handled and viewed mine. In Joseph's life I think you see God's true intentions, not to bring us harm or hurt us, but for something way better than we can ever imagine!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Hope this was somewhat encouraging and uplifting!
This doesn't mean it is something that is easy, it is just something to strive for!
Sending you all lots of love!