Genesis 40:15, NLT
“For I was kidnapped from my homeland, the land of the Hebrews, and now I’m here in prison, but did nothing to deserve it.”
Psalm 66:10-12, NLT
“You have tested us, O God; you have purified us like silver. You captured us in your net and laid the burden of slavery on our backs. Then you put a leader over us. We went through fire and flood, but you brought us to a place of great abundance.”
Psalm 105:16-18, NLT
“He called for a famine on the land of Canaan., cutting off its food supply. Then he sent someone to Egypt ahead of them – Joseph, who was sold as a slave. They bruised his feet with fetters and placed his neck in an iron collar.
Until the time came to fulfill his dreams, the Lord tested Joseph’s character.”
James 1:2-4, NLT
“Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opport- tunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it
grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.”
Testing In A Crisis – There is an aspect of “testing” in most of the crises we experience in life. Sudden disruptions in our lives are mostly unplanned, and they are undeserving. Joseph realized that the precarious events in his life that resulted in imprisonment, were not of his choosing (cf. Genesis 40:15, NLT). The challenges Joseph encountered, although unfair, would also shape his destiny. Many centuries after Joseph’s death, his descendants would acknowledge what their patriarch had learned: ‘We are tested by the crises we encounter.’ The testing God permits us to experience will always work for our good (cf. Psalm 66:10-12, NLT; Also, Romans 8: 28, NLT). The Hebrew word for “test” or “testing” (tsara’ath), means literally “to melt, shape, or refine.” The word imagery describes metal that is being shaped by a silver smith. Testing also implies “building a person’s character.” When the nation of Israel reflected on how God “sent” Joseph to Egypt for a purpose, they also acknowledged that the testing Joseph endured would strengthen his character (cf. Psalm 105:16-18, NLT). In out devotional book, You’ll Get Through This, author Max Lucado offers this insight on Joseph: “As a boy Joseph was prone to softness…God knew the challenges that lay ahead, and He used Joseph’s time in prison to strengthen his servant.” How often has God used the critical moments in our lives to make us stronger and more mature! In the Romans 8:28 passage of the New Testament, the Apostle Paul tells us that in every circumstance God “is working out something good for us.” Similar to the Hebrew term in the Old Testament, Paul uses the Greek word sunergeo. This is a compound word, which implies “someone is working closely beside someone else” for the best results. Although we are tested through our crises, we have the assurance that God is beside us in every encounter we face. As difficult as life’s challenges are, they provide us with an opportunity to experience the fulfillment of God’s greater purpose in our lives. It is through the testing of our faith, that Christian growth and formation occurs. The Apostle James shared this message to Christians, who were dispersed throughout the region in which he lived. James says it is not merely the crisis that shapes us, but the endurance in facing the crisis that refines our character (cf. James 1:2-4, NLT). Joseph’s tests
I Peter 4:19, NLT
“So if you are suffering in a manner that pleases God, keep on doing what is right, and trust your lives to the God who created you, for He will never fail you.”
Psalm 31:3-5, NLT
“You are my rock and my for- tress. For the honor of your name, lead me out of danger. Pull me from the trap my enemies set for me, for I find protection in you alone. I entrust my spirit into your hand. Rescue me, Lord, for you are a faithful God.”
Genesis 40:1-4, NLT “Sometime later, Pharaoh’s chief cup-bearer and chief baker offended their royal
master. Pharaoh became angry with these two officials and he put them in the prison where Joseph was, in the palace of the captain of the guard. They remained in prison for quite some time, and the captain of the guard assigned them to Joseph, who looked after
Genesis 40:5-8 NLT “While they were in prison, Pharaoh’s cup-bearer and baker had a dream one night, and each dream had its own meaning. When Joseph saw them the next morning, he noticed that they both looked upset. “Why do you look so
worried today?” he asked them. And they replied, “We both had dreams last night, but no one can tell us what they mean.” “Interpreting dreams is God’s business,” Joseph replied. “Go ahead and tell me your dream.”
Genesis 40:14, NLT
“And please remember me and do me a favor when things go well for you. Mention me to Pharaoh, so he might let me out of this place.”
Shaped And Refined Through A Crisis – The Apostle Peter never says God delights in our suffering, but he does emphasize that God “is pleased” with the manner in which we handle our crises (cf. I Peter 4:19, NLT). Whether Joseph, Job, Ruth or any of us, God does not take joy in the pain inflicted on us in our suffering. Rather, God delights in our faithfulness to Him, and how we become strengthened through our ordeals. The scripture declares God will never fail us, so God isn’t merely standing back, when we’re going through difficulties. Our faith gives us the confidence to ask God to take us through, and deliver us from, our crisis (cf. Psalm 31:3-5, NIV). What is noteworthy about Joseph’s ordeal, is that even with his undeserved incarceration, his gifts and character always stood out. Placed in a dingy dungeon cell, other prisoners were assigned to Joseph’s custody (cf. Genesis 40:1-4, NLT). Max Lucado shares this observation about Joseph: “He cared for the butler and baker before he cared for the nation…Excel in small things… Today’s prisoner may become tomorrow’s prime minister. Where you are given a task, take it on.” Think of Nelson Mandela. He served his final 18 years of incarceration in Robben Island Prison, and was released in 1990. On May 10, 1994, Mr. Mandela was sworn-in as the president of South Africa, the country that held him in prison for 27 years, for being a leader against the evil system of apartheid. When Pharaoh’s jailed cup-bearer and butler displayed unusual fear and sadness, because of alarming dreams they each experienced, Joseph showed compassion for them. Because the men couldn’t interpret their dreams, Joseph used his gift of interpretation to discern what their futures held (cf. Genesis 40:5-8, NLT). Joseph’s proximity with these men in prison was important to his ultimate release. They worked for the king, and Joseph realized that this was as close to the king he could get to appeal his unjust conviction and sentence. Despite his ordeal, Joseph saw an opportunity that could affect his future for good (cf. Genesis 40:14, NLT). Although Joseph would learn a lesson about depending on people for favors, he would ultimately prevail in his quest to be free.
What We Believe
God will use for His purpose, and our benefit, any season in which we are tested.
God will use our circumstances to “change” us!
Any and every trial in life is temporary.