“Then Midianite traders passed by; so the brothers pulled Joseph up and lifted him out of the pit, and sold him to the Ishmaelites for twenty shekels of silver. And they took Joseph to Egypt” (Genesis 37:28).
James writes, “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials” (James 1:2). Do you enjoy going through trials? Many times, I find I can look back on the trials through which I have gone and see how God has helped me through them and helped me grow because I went through them; but, I don’t always handle things so well in the midst of the particular trials through which I am going.
Joseph, the 11th son of the Patriarch Jacob, endured some great trials in his life. As the opening passage above indicates, he was sold into slavery by his own brothers (Genesis 37:28). He had experienced great anguish in his soul and pleaded with his brothers not to do this to him (Genesis 42:21). Another trial he faced was being cast into prison following a false accusation made against him by Potiphar’s wife (Genesis 39:20). He faced these trials with no family to support or encourage him. How did Joseph show his faithfulness to God while he was in the midst of suffering great trials?
First, Joseph honored God by his godly living. When Joseph arrived in slavery in Egypt, he was sold to an officer of Pharaoh named Potiphar (Genesis 37:36). We have no indication that Joseph wallowed in self-pity as he found himself in these horrific circumstances. He didn’t blame God saying, “God why are you letting this happen to me?” Instead, Joseph just continues to honor God by serving faithfully in whatever capacity he finds himself. In fact, he serves Potiphar so well that Potiphar makes him master of his house (Genesis 39:1-4). Later, after being thrown in prison for a crime he did not commit, Joseph doesn’t give up in discouragement or dwell on protesting his innocence. Instead, he again honors God by his service (Genesis 39:22-23). Because Joseph honored God by his godly living, God blessed him and was with Joseph in all he did (Genesis 39:2, 5, 21, 23). Joseph did not let the terrible circumstances in which he found himself to dictate whether or not he would remain faithful to God.
A second way in which Joseph showed his faithfulness to God was by his fleeing temptation. While in charge of Potiphar’s house, Potiphar’s wife tempts Joseph to commit sexual immorality (Genesis 38:7). She did not do this just once, but on a daily basis (Genesis 38:10). When one considers all he had endured, it must have been tempting for Joseph to want to find comfort in her arms. However, his commitment to remain faithful to God was far greater than any desire to give into this temptation. Notice his response: “But he refused and said to his master's wife, ‘Look, my master does not know what is with me in the house, and he has committed all that he has to my hand. There is no one greater in this house than I, nor has he kept back anything from me but you, because you are his wife. How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?’ ” (Genesis 39:8-9). Joseph did not believe the trials he suffered gave him an excuse to cave into temptation.
I admit it is difficult to count trials a joy as I am going through them. I know I need to grow in this area and learn to do this. I find great encouragement from Joseph that it can be done! I refuse to allow the trials I face to cause me to give into temptation or dishonor God by ungodly living. Today, I will strive to follow Joseph’s godly example of how to remain faithful to God even in the midst of great trials!
“For this is commendable, if because of conscience toward God one endures grief, suffering wrongfully. For what credit is it if, when you are beaten for your faults, you take it patiently? But when you do good and suffer, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before God” (1 Peter 1:19-20).