Do you sense a kindred spirit with any person in the Bible? For me, that’s Joseph, son of Jacob, grandson of Isaac. He is my model of integrity in difficult situations.
Transition 1: Abandonment
Joseph was suddenly cut off from his mother, father, and younger brothers when his older half-brothers sold him into slavery. He was thrown into a pit, handed over to traders, and taken to a distant land, all against his will. He must have felt betrayed, rejected, and traumatized. Abandoned and cursed. I understand those feelings as an adult child of divorce. I am encouraged that I have a biblical example of someone else who handled similar emotions.
Transition 2: Imprisonment
Joseph was falsely accused and sent to prison for several years. Even when he had a chance for release, he was forgotten. God used those dark years to refine Joseph’s character. He smoothed the rough edges of Joseph’s youthful boasting and transformed him into a humble servant who gave God all the glory. The years of Joseph’s imprisonment were his years of refinement. God had not forgotten the dream he planted in Joseph’s heart. He used the prison years to shape Joseph into a wise leader.
Transition 3: Rise to power
Joseph was so close to the Lord, even during his prison sentence, that the pagan Pharoah recognized his faith: “Can we find anyone like this man, one in whom is the spirit of God?” (Gen. 41:38) Pharoah made Joseph his second-in-command. Through God’s direction, Joseph used his wisdom and discernment to make the land of Egypt the center of provision in a severe famine.
Transition 4: Reconciliation
Joseph’s brothers came to Egypt out of desperation. He recognized them immediately, but they didn’t know him in his Egyptian regalia. He put them through a series of tests until he couldn’t stand the tension any longer. Then Joseph revealed himself to them with weeping and kisses. He reassured them: “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” (Gen. 50:20)
You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good.
God intended these things for my good: my parents’ divorce, my abiding loneliness, my seasons of depression, my troubled marriage, my challenges in family relationships. Though I couldn’t see it in the midst of those circumstances, I see now how each of those trials shaped my character. Those trials drove me to cling to God as my Father, search him out as my Savior, depend on him as my Kinsman-Redeemer, and trust in him as the Lord God Almighty.
I like this quote from Larry Fowler:
Joseph’s situation presents the greatest test of faith that could face a young person: a hedonistic culture opposed to God, continual temptation, extreme physical and mental hardships, and zero spiritual support. Joseph was all alone…There was no external support to keep him on the straight and narrow; it was only his integrity, his own heart…In facing it all, he remained faithful, righteous, and committed to God.
Fowler, Larry. Raising a Modern-Day Joseph. David C. Cook, Colorado Springs: 2009.
Joseph is my spiritual mentor. What have you learned from the way Joseph weathered transitions?
Joseph’s full story can be found in Genesis 37-50.
See other posts in this series:
Our new mornings, 1983
3 Tough Transitions as a child of divorce