What could be some bad things that are happening in your life at this time? Are you struggling with some health issues? Do you have some financial challenges that are causing you to be stressed out? Are there some relationship difficulties that could be hurtful? What about some bad stuff at your job or school?
All of us have bad stuff that happens in our lives – some of the bad stuff might not be too bad at this moment. Or some of the bad stuff in your life right now is beyond horrific. It seems to be that dealing with bad stuff is part of what it means to be human. So who could we look at in the Bible to give us some ideas and wisdom on dealing with bad stuff?
I’d suggest that Joseph, in the last part of Genesis, is a great person to consider for pointers on navigating hardship. As we look at Joseph, remember that he was bitterly hated by his brothers because of his dad’s favoritism toward him. Joseph also didn’t help his cause much when he told his brothers about his supernatural dream of them bowing down to him. After this, his brothers sold him into slavery and he was dragged down to Egypt, where he served in the house of a government leader. During this employment, he was unfairly accused by the wife of his employer, saying that he had attacked her. Her accusation landed Joseph in prison, where he was also forgotten even though he helped the cupbearer for Pharoah.
Joseph went through a fair amount of bad stuff, not only with his family, but also with his employment and unjustly doing a prison stint. What could we look at in Joseph’s life for suggestions to help us when we are dealing with bad stuff?
I think that one of the key takeaways in Joseph’s life was his awareness of God’s presence and favor with him. We see his awareness of God when he tells the wife of his employer that he’s not going to sin against God by falling into her enticement trap. He also tells Pharoah, as he’s about to interpret his dream, that God gives the interpretation of dreams. Finally, after his dad had died, Joseph tells his brothers that while they meant to harm him, God turned their efforts a full 180-degrees to facilitate the salvation of many people. Joseph was refering to the famine and thousands of people saved because Joseph had stockpiled the harvests from years of abundance.
Another key takeaway is that Joseph did his best to serve with excellence, regardless of where he found himself. Because of his excellence and heaps because of God’s favor on him, Joseph often found himself in leadership positions and receiving the massive confidence of his various supervisors.
Finally, I think that Joseph didn’t let himself get poisoned with bitterness and revenge to pay back his brothers for their crummy treatment.
While these three takeaways might seem simple, they nevertheless are very important keys to helping us deal with bad stuff in our lives. Maybe the most important thing of all is to stay connected with God, even if and when you are angry, disappointed, frustrated and questioning God.