“But it happened about this time, when Joseph went into the house to do his work and none of the men of the house was inside, that she caught him by his garment saying, ‘Lie with me.’ But he left his garment in her hand and fled and ran outside.” Gen.39:11-12
“Then Joseph’s master took him and put him in to the prison, a place where the king’s prisoners were confined. And he was there in prison.” Gen.39:20
Doesn’t it seem unjust that Joseph is consistently making the right choices, yet once again, his entire life is negatively affected by the whim of others? When it happens in our own lives, we want to ask, “What’s up with that?” Right?
We expect certain consequences to come when we’ve made wrong choices, but when someone else messes with our life (including the enemy) after we’ve been doing all that we can to follow hard after God…well that just seems to break every “fairness rule” ever taught to us. Cue the audience; life isn’t fair. That’s what some of you are saying right? Of course it isn’t. I know it and you know it. So why do we live like we expect it to be?
It is true that when life is one big, continuous litany of “unfair” over the course of years, it can be nothing short of discouraging, if not downright depressing. So what’s really going on during hard or crisis seasons? I believe it’s not only helpful, but crucial to our physical and spiritual health to ask God for His perspective, versus what we think is happening.
God isn’t about the business of making life fair. He’s about making the unfair count for something.
And how does He do that? He declares our hearts “Under Construction.” When things suddenly turn topsy-turvy, you can take it to the spiritual bank that your character is being tested…from the inside out. That’s what was happening to Joseph (Ps. 105:19).
There’s a common saying: “Character is doing the right thing when no one is looking.”
I believe it’s easy to do good most of the time. I really do. But character goes deeper than our doing. It involves the motives, thoughts and intentions in our heart. Developing a Christ-like character is an ongoing internal working of the heart. Remember, everything we are, and therefore by extension do, flows from the heart (Prov.4:23).
God is always more concerned with who we are internally than what we do externally.
Christ is continually searching the (willing) heart, shining Light into the recesses, nooks and crannies for even the slightest thing unpleasing to Him. Why? So He can punish us? No! So He can work it out of us, enabling Him to use us for His intended purposes. Only He knows what it will take to get us to the place where we can handle (fulfill) our calling. He is thorough, and He never leaves a job unfinished (Phil. 1:6).
So if (when) we find ourselves in the in-between years, rest assured that God is patiently waiting for us to take on His character in one or more areas. Then again, sometimes we’re given the same test time and again, not to discourage us, but to show us how far we’ve come.
In between the dream and his destiny, Joseph was learning the lessons of character in leadership: forgiveness, mercy, God’s timing, trustworthiness, listening, obedience, patience, etc.
In my own life, even though I had truly been a victim of others choices (in many of the same ways as Joseph) up until the age of eighteen, as an adult, I have to take full responsibility for the choices I made in response to how I was treated.
We cannot control what others do or say to us, especially when we’re younger. But we can learn self-control (fruit of the Spirit) even in the midst of the worst of circumstances if we stay connected to The Vine.
I recently attended a Beth Moore conference in which she said, “It would bring no glory to God or benefit anyone if I were to name all of my sins.” I’ve always appreciated the way she tells her story, yet doesn’t elaborate on her sins, but instead, focuses on how God delivered her from her brokenness and many addictions. I will say this much. I began to look for love and acceptance in all the wrong places. I was so broken-hearted and so lost as to who I was (identity) that I also took my anger out on everyone around me, including God.
And yet, God did not give up on me! The things I was was so angry about, are the very things God has used to mold His character into me today. In the midst of difficulties, we’re tempted to say, “If only…” and to think that if only this or that wouldn’t have happened, we would be in a better position. But that just isn’t the truth.
Because I suffered so greatly growing up, my heart has been tenderized by the Lord so that I can relate to almost any situation or circumstance I see someone going through. Because I’ve strayed and sinned in grievous ways and received abundant grace and forgiveness from the Lord, He has enabled me to forgive. Because I know what it feels like to be alone and unseen, the Holy Spirit is quick to show me those who need to know they are seen and loved by God.
We are who we are today because of our experiences, not in spite of them.
What is one thing God has taught you about your character during a difficult season in your life?
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Next Week: A giveway for you!