“You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” Genesis 50:20
Have you faced yet another disappointment recently? Your success in life is not determined by the bad things that happen to you, but by how you respond to the disappointments in your life. God often allows disappointments because the kind of character needed to be used by God is developed through disappointments.
Joseph’s growing arrogance gave him a false sense of security and blinded him to impending danger. His brother’s jealousy reached a tipping point when Joseph told them that they would bow down to him and he would rule over the nations (Gen. 37:6-9). Joseph never imagined his brothers would throw him in a pit and then sell him into slavery. In great agony, Joseph cried out and begged his brothers to save him and they walked away. He faced the greatest disappointment of his life, the abandonment of his brothers. God was not unaware of what was happening to Joseph, as He would use all the disappointments to shape his character and fulfill His good plans for Joseph’s life.
God’s discipline through disappointments and pain strengthens our weak character and enhances our good character. Joseph learned to wait on God’s timing to fulfill His word and accept his circumstances, when yet again falsely accused and thrown in prison (Gen. 39:14-15, 20). Prison did not seem the likely path to greatness. The stripping away of all securities is the perfect soil for God to cultivate a character of greatness.
Discipline is painful and just as in physical exercise, when we feel we are weak, we are actually getting stronger “for those who have been trained by it” (Hebrews 12:11). If you want toned arms, then you must do exercises to strengthen your arm muscles. The same type of training is required in your spiritual life. The pressure from hard times exposes our weaknesses, whether it is: anxiety, pride, or insecurity. If you struggle with anxiety, then the only way to deal with anxiety is “to take it to the mat,” work it out in God’s gymnasium. Let God deal with your anxiety by strengthening your trust muscles.
Joseph focused on the “who” not the “why.” Focusing on the “why” would have caused bitterness and anger towards God. Instead of listening to the lies of the enemy that God had forgotten him, he listened to God who said, listen to the needs of my people even the ones in prison and love them well. The warden saw God’s presence in Joseph’s life, so he put him in charge of everyone in prison. Joseph listened with compassion as the chief cupbearer and baker shared their dreams, (Gen. 40:6-19) rather than avoiding them, as their stories would seem senseless and irrelevant to life in prison when he could be attending to other duties.
You never know how much listening and showing compassion to someone can literally change the course of your life. Joseph had no idea this dream was all a part of God’s plan to move him into a position of national leadership. The pride we see earlier in Joseph’s life was worked out through enduring disappointments and experiencing God’s faithfulness and goodness in difficult circumstances.
Joseph was just as much a beloved son of God and son of Jacob in prison as he was a freeman. Our circumstances do not define us. God’s favor in Joseph’s life was not so that he could live a great life by the world’s standards, but for the purpose of strengthening his faith, so he would have the kind of character God could use to change the world for the good. -Mary Carmen Englert **for stories from women who have walked through disappointment and found their faith stronger, follow this link
Sacred Story is honored to have Mary Carmen Englert as a guest contributor. Mary Carmen worked in education and fashion in New York City and Nashville, TN as well as teaching Bible studies and leading breakouts for women’s retreats. She received a BS in Interdisciplinary Studies, minor in French from Baylor University, Masters in Education from Vanderbilt University, and Masters of Theology from Dallas Theological Seminary.