Over the past few days I have been reading the story of Joseph in the Bible in the book of Genesis. Joseph had an interesting life, to say the least, and his story helps us understand what we mean when we say God is with us.
In Genesis, the author often states, "The LORD was with Joseph".
God was with Joseph when he was sold into slavery (Genesis 39:2-3), when he was wrongfully imprisoned (Genesis 39:21), when he interpreted Pharaoh's dream (Genesis 41:38), and when he was appointed caretaker over all of Egypt's harvest, and even at the reconciliation with his brothers (Genesis 50:20).
Interestingly, the author clearly states, "The LORD was with Joseph" in the hard times, and the same is assumed during the good times. Nevertheless, whether in good times or bad, the LORD was with Joseph. And He is with us too.
A few months ago, I learned something that has helped me understand my own journey better, and has assisted me in helping others understand their journey as well.
I imagine most have heard that there are two factors which determine a person's life journey: nature and/or nurture. This suggests that some people are born with specific challenges or good/bad character traits, while others develop those challenges or good/bad character based on the care they received or did not receive when they were young. The first suggestion attributes character development to nature, while the second suggestion attributes it to nurture. In reality, both are factors, and must be considered as we think about character development. Yet are you aware that there is a third factor?
The third factor is the one that makes all the difference in the world. The third factor, beyond nature and nurture, is choice. Each person, no matter what has happened to them, has a choice as to how they will respond to a given situation.
For example, one could say Joseph had it made. He was born into a good family, even though his mom died when he was young, his father took special interest in him and taught him about the LORD and sought to develop his character.
Yet later in life things went differently. He was attacked by his brothers, sold into slavery, wrongfully imprisoned, and then forgotten after helping interpret a dream for Pharaoh's cupbearer. Things had gone from really good to bad to worse.
Even so, Joseph still had a choice. He could choose how to respond. Would he wallow in misery, blaming others for the horrible things that had happened to him, or would he trust God, and live with integrity no matter the circumstances.
Joseph chose to trust God, and because of God's abiding presence and Joseph's choices things turned around for him. In fact, it was though the crucible of the hard times that Joseph became the person God needed him to be to carry out such a monumental task (Genesis 50:20).
So what about you? Have you been living as if life has dealt you a bad hand? Have you been blaming your mom and dad for your misfortune in life, or believing you were born with a raw deal?
If so, I want to encourage you to look to God. He is with you, and will be with you. You have a choice how you will respond to each situation you face today.
I invite you to share your thoughts, struggles, challenges, pain, and I promise to pray with you as we journey together along the Way ...