Joseph was a teenager and was loved by his father more than other brothers. Naturally, this favouritism was resented by his older brothers. And with that Joseph had dreams from God, informing that Joseph would be a ruler and other brothers would pay homage to him. That made his brothers envious and wanted to teach him a lesson. How can a dream be fulfilled when the dreamer himself no longer exist on this earth? They wanted to get rid of him and they threw him in an unused well and left him to die. But the eldest brother interfered and brought Joseph out. But the brothers sold him as slave to traders who were passing that way to another nation. He ended in Potiphar’s home as a slave, refugee and in a strange culture. There he had to face sexual harassment allegation by Potiphar’s wife and was thrown in a prison. In prison, he excelled and helped two servants of Pharaoh to understand their respective dreams and the dreams were truly fulfilled. But, the friend was forgetful and did not bother to speak on behalf of innocent Joseph. Another dream of Pharaoh landed Joseph in the Egypt’s court, his interpretation of Pharaoh’s dream and action plan, made him the Chief Executive Officer of Egypt. Great story! But, how did Joseph understand this experience and how did he have relationship with his brothers later?
“But Joseph said to them, ‘Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)
Good and bad experiences: In life, all have gone through interesting, bad, exciting, adventurous and monotonous experiences. Some experiences cheer you up and when you look back you are elated or comforted by thinking about those experiences. That could be termed as ‘star’ experiences. At the same time there are experiences that were painful, even thinking of those creates uncomfortable feelings. That could be termed as ‘scar’ experiences. Whether you like it or not, both experiences are part and parcel of your life.
Attitude: These experiences should always make you better and not bitter. For bitterness would sap your energy and kill you. Do not be prisoner of past but be focused on future, while using all opportunities of the present. You cannot be permanently having ‘star’ experiences, though you like to. In the same way, it is not possible to stay put in ‘scar’ experiences. But, you have to move on. Joseph had an healthy attitude.
Perception: Joseph perceived his experiences from the perspective of God, instead of seeing it from his own perspective. It was not ‘worm view’ – localized perspective but ‘eagle view’ – perspective from above. That view is clear, sharp and also gives bigger picture.
Sovereignty of God: Joseph also saw his experiences happening under the sovereign rule of God. God is in perfect control of all situations. These experiences are permitted by God; according to your tolerance level; for your benefit, welfare and progress; for your growth and maturity and for your long-term benefit. God does not do mistakes. His plan is perfect, so our experiences are designed for a definite purpose. These bitter experiences are must for a pupa to develop into a beautiful butterfly. Unfortunately, there are no short-cuts in this process.
Human intentions do not succeed: Joseph spelt it very precisely; his brothers’ intention was vile, evil, and wicked. But, God did not allow their wicked schemes to succeed. Out of envy, hatred, attitude of revenge people could conspire against you, but they can never succeed. So, Joseph saw his brothers who schemed as God’s tutorial instruments, and not as personal enemies.
Learning in adversity: Joseph used all the opportunities he got. He optimally learnt from all situations. He learnt management skills in administering in Potiphar’s home. He learnt about the palace, Egyptian administration system from his friends in the jail. So, when he was provided an opportunity, he displayed his quick thinking, analysis, strategic plan and implementation method in his proposal to the Pharaoh. All experiences are life tutorials and you can learn a lot from those experiences than any where else.
Greater Purpose: Joseph understood, all these happened to him so that he could save many. Yes, he dealt with the economic problems of ‘surplus’ and ‘scarcity’ and saved the whole nation and neighbouring nation from perishing due to that great famine. Today’s sad, bitter and painful experiences are preparation for a glorious ministry of being blessing to others.
Create the attitude of Joseph. Learn the new paradigm of God’s sovereign rule, human beings as God’s agents, redeeming every opportunity and learning from adversity.
Create a ‘Life Map’. It is a simple exercise that could be done in a sheet of paper. Draw a line in the centre of page. Divide the line into segments denoting time period, like 0-5 years, 6-10 years, 11-15 years, 16-20 years, 21-25 years…etc. In age segment reflect and state what your ‘star’ experiences were and mark it above the line in the 0-5 age column. Do the same as ‘scar’ experiences below the line. Proceed to do for each five year segment until this time.