Are you discouraged today? Are you wondering when your circumstances might change? I’m sure that Joseph in the Old Testament had days like that. Sold into slavery by his brothers. Wrongly accused by his master’s wife. Thrown into prison. Left there for years. The story has all the makings of a major case of depression, right?
Keep in mind that because we already know the outcome, our view is tainted. Joseph didn’t have our vantage point. He didn’t know that he would be released from his imprisonment and become a powerful man. All he saw was the inside of his cell.
How many times during his incarceration did Joseph begin to wonder where God was? How many times was he tempted to ponder what he had done wrong that caused this to happen? Is it possible that “if-onlys” could have run through Joseph’s mind occasionally? We don’t know for sure, but the probability is certainly there. It would have been easy for Joseph to lapse into such a mindset, wouldn’t it?
Yet, somehow through all of it, Joseph seems to be steadfast, resolute. After being sold into slavery, each time he speaks, he mentions God in a positive way. Remember when Joseph’s master’s wife tried to seduce him? Part of the reason Joseph refused was because it would be a “sin against God” (Genesis 39:9). Later, Joseph assured both the baker and cupbearer that God could interpret their dreams (Genesis 40:8). And still later, he said basically the same thing to Pharaoh (Genesis 41:16). Further, Joseph then told him that God had given Pharaoh the dreams.
How does one keep such a God-centered attitude in the midst of such trials?
I think that Isaiah 26:3 offers us at least part of the key. “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” The writer of Hebrews says we are to be “looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2). When our focus is on the Lord, the other stuff seems less significant.