HomeOpinion & AnalysisSuccess in the midst of adversity: Lessons from Joseph

Success in the midst of adversity: Lessons from Joseph

gracetidings:with dr doug mamvura

A wise person learns from other people’s mistakes while a fool learns from his or her own mistakes. This may sound radical, however it is true that some of the mistakes we make, could be avoided if we were to learn from other people.

God’s Word is full of the good and bad experiences of men and women of old, placed there as examples for you and me.

1 Corinthians 10:11 says: “Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world have come.”

One of my favourite characters is Joseph. He is one the greatest examples of godly character and integrity in the Bible. Joseph’s story began with a dream at the age of 17. He knew the dreams he was having were from the Lord and that they revealed God’s purpose and plans for his life.

Joseph believed what the Lord had spoken, and he immediately announced it to his family: “God told me that all of you will bow down to me someday” Some believe that Joseph made a mistake when he shared this vision, but I believe he was simply excited about hearing from the Lord and shared it in simple faith and humility, not arrogance. However, this bold announcement only served to draw his father’s rebuke and feed his brothers’ growing hatred. (Genesis 37:8, 10-11).

Joseph had heard from God. He now had a purpose, or a vision, for his life, even if it wasn’t received by others. You and I were created for a divine purpose as well. God may not speak to you through a dream, but if you will become determined to know His plan for your life, He will reveal it to you. As long as you can live without knowing His will for your life, you will.

If you’re not fulfilled in what you are doing, even if things seem to be going well, don’t wait any longer; don’t settle for anything less than knowing God’s purpose for your life.

Not only will the pursuit of your vision bring fulfillment, it will keep you on track. Joseph’s vision kept him on track during very difficult times and when faced with great temptation. Proverbs 29:18 says it this way: “Where there is no vision, the people cast off restraint” (American Standard Version).

Your God-given dream, or purpose, will inspire you, motivate you, and help restrain your flesh in the absence of any evidence that it’s coming to pass. And don’t be surprised if some of your fiercest opposition comes from those close to you. It did for Joseph.

Joseph understood that what God had spoken to him and declared about him was true no matter what the circumstances indicated. Genesis 39:2 is one of my favourite verses in all of Scripture because it defies the logic of Joseph’s circumstances. It says: “And the Lord was with Joseph, and he was a prosperous man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian.”

God’s Word declares that Joseph was “a prosperous man”. This was at a time in his life when He was serving as a slave. His own brothers had sold him into slavery and told his father he was dead.

God views prosperity much differently than we do. Material things are not indicative of prosperity. True prosperity is knowing that God is with you. True prosperity is keeping His vision alive in your heart. True prosperity is not wealth itself but God’s favour, anointing, and power that work in your life to obtain it. Deuteronomy 8:18 says: “Thou shalt remember the Lord thy God: for it is he that giveth thee power to get wealth, that he may establish his covenant.”

Joseph believed he was prosperous because he knew prosperity came from God, not man. He had an image on the inside that was not affected by circumstance, and it enabled Joseph to operate in faith. Instead of licking his wounds and complaining, Joseph served others and ministered wholeheartedly to their needs. As he diligently laboured, God blessed the work of his hands.

If Joseph could do it, so can you and I. We have the same power dwelling on the inside of us that raised Jesus from the dead. Joseph didn’t have that. Begin to see yourself as God sees you, a prosperous person, regardless of your physical circumstances. Recognise and acknowledge the fact that God is with you, that you are anointed and highly favoured. Serve others with all your heart as unto the Lord. Eliminate murmuring and complaining, and replace them with praise and thankfulness, knowing God will complete what He has begun in your life.

Joseph maintained his integrity. Recognising the favour and presence of God in his life, Joseph’s master soon appointed him manager over his entire house (Genesis 39:6).

Potiphar trusted Joseph completely. However, the master’s wife began to solicit this handsome young man to lie with her. This had to be very tempting for a slave in his position, but Joseph refused to give in no matter what the cost. He maintained his integrity, but it was not rewarded. In fact, he got just the opposite. In her anger at Joseph’s rejection, Potiphar’s wife lied to the master.

Joseph was able to maintain his integrity because he was not concerned with what man thought. He did not consider the benefits or consequences of his actions based on what Potiphar, his master, might do. Notice his reasoning in Genesis 39:9. It says,
“How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?”

His main concern was what God would think. He understood that he was accountable to God and that the fulfilment of his dream was completely dependent upon God.
Joseph lived a God-dependent life, and he lived it in the midst of great adversity. He knew his future rested in the hands of the Lord.

Joseph’s life was about to take another turn when the chief butler and the chief baker had both a dream while in prison which needed an interpreter. There they both had a dream but no one to interpret them (Genesis 40:1-7).

The Lord gave Joseph the interpretation, and both came to pass. The butler kept his job, and the baker lost his head. In spite of the miracle of these interpretations, the butler said nothing of Joseph for two years. Most people would have given up, but not Joseph; he knew God’s plan would be fulfilled. Then Pharaoh himself had a dream that all the magicians of Egypt could not interpret. God was about to take Joseph from rags to riches in one inspired moment. When the king learned of Joseph’s ability to interpret dreams, he sent for him and asked if he could interpret his dreams. Joseph was ready.

Joseph, by the Spirit, interpreted the king’s dream. Equally as important, the king realised the Spirit of God was in Joseph. His response is recorded in Genesis 41:39-40.

Promotion had truly come from God. Immediately, Joseph found himself promoted to a position of power, second only to Pharaoh. It’s important to understand that Joseph had either been serving as a slave or was imprisoned for seventeen years after the time that his purpose was revealed and before it was fulfilled. It’s so tempting to become weary or impatient and abandon the vision for an easier way.

It was nine years from the time Joseph was placed in power before his brothers came to Egypt seeking help. Joseph had many options if he had wanted to revenge and yet he didn’t behave that way.

Prosperity and success will test your character infinitely more than hardship. Success has corrupted more individuals than hardship ever has. It’s prosperity that often causes people to lose sight of their God-given vision or to attempt to bring it to pass through their own natural ability. Joseph was never affected by his successes. He remained humble.

l Dr Doug Mamvura is a graduate of Charis Bible School. Feedback: drdoug@corporatemomentum.biz or Twitter @dougmamvura

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