Psalms 105:18(NLT) until the time came to fulfill his dreams, the Lord tested Joseph’s character.
As a student of scripture and closet observer of the many expositors and expounders of them, perhaps no scriptural clause creates a veritable buffet of doctrine, theology, purpose, and understanding like this solitary, psalmic verse. Here, intertwined like the cords of a plaited rope – Creator, creation, and chaos run together – unraveling through life the strength, essence and purpose of each component and part.
Sandwiched strategically and voluminously between Abraham’s faith and Moses’ deliverance, stands a man who lived out extraordinary hope and inspiring perseverance. His place in the establishing of faith has implications and ripple effect throughout bible history, even to the salvific, eternal redemption of God’s chosen. And though few will ever be tested to the degree of severity in which Joseph’s faith was tested, be certain that all will be tested regarding the sincerity of their faith.
Like a porch light to the bugs at night, Joseph’s dream magnetized the envious naysayers of his day. When his ascending pedigree and posterity were openly declared among his brothers, invariably, relational chasms and beastly violence reached commonplace throughout his maturing years.
Though the path of Joseph’s dream and destination was interspersed with adversity and cruelty, the Author of his dream proved to be a far greater Finisher than all the desperate conspiracies and circumstances that sought to abort it.
For the dream, or prophetic words, that inspired Joseph’s life – words that propelled him, humbled him, protected him, and promoted him through numerous setbacks – outlived even him, as they contained words of foreknowledge regarding the inevitable formation of national Israel.
What some silently chafe at when trouble strikes is that there’s more at stake in trials than the mere wellbeing of the one tried. So that events that were ordained for Joseph to endure, in both Canaan and Egypt, were essential for Israel to be center stage in Messianic prophecy. For the coming of Christ and the creation of His redeemed Church were facilitated primarily on the shoulders of a bare few; a few that lived, not for themselves, but for the will of God.
Consider then the wisdom orchestrating the tumultuous years of Joseph’s rise to prominence. No one persists and pushes through difficulties as dark as those entertained by Joseph without possessing a faith that grasps something greater than themselves.
Surfacing quietly from the horrific rejections, accusations, injustices, neglect, wounding, dishonor, loneliness, imprisonment and separations Joseph experienced, four prominent truths arose:
- none of Joseph’s troubles were purposeless
- none resulted from his own improprieties
- none came without the allowances of God’s providence
- all things (even tribulations), worked together for his good!
To profit from life’s torrid trials, understand first that what’s valued greater than gold is the deeper faith and spiritual fruit that invariably flourishes, even when storms we experience are ratcheted to inexplicable levels.
While tempests of discouragement and turmoil of disappointment time and again ripped the external foliage from Joseph’s extraordinary dream, the character of a soon-to-be prince was being formed and deeply etched. As to integrity, the trustworthiness required in stewardship was groomed and proven dramatically in Potiphar’s house. And the leadership qualifications needed for the massive role he’d soon fill in Egypt were well satisfied through various other setbacks and testings.
How do we then engage the temptations and fiery trials that crop up in the path of every child of God? And what further purpose or benefit can the consuming fires of God provide us, even when we’re committed to Christ and obediently surrendering to His will?
Check out these three advisements when dreams are not fulfilled, and life doesn’t look anything like we thought it would:
— BE SURE—
- Determine who and what’s unmovable, decide to be faithful, discern your true foe.
- Focus on what transcends time; and the temporal things, even the troubles, find their effects lessened, either immediately or eventually.
— BE STILL—
- Overcomers learn to rest more, not work more. More victories are won in prayer than on platforms and pulpits. Stay low and inside.
- Only in patience do we review our priorities, and it’s then that we usually adjust and reduce them. And that’s ok. Be transformed.
- The Holy Spirit is a better comforter than dancer. So receive comfort before we desire deliverance.
— BE SWEET—
- To God. To oneself. To others. To antagonists.
- It’s likely someone questioned your authenticity – so prove you, not them.
- A rose doesn’t know that the suit to which it is pinned is actually worn by the grifter everyone despises. So be you. Do you. Be beautiful.
- Rejoice in everything. I know, I don’t get it either, it sounds foolish. But He told us, so I’m on it. And if I’m going to grow in Him, I’ve got to believe Him in things I don’t like or understand.
And humorously, if a three-legged bar stool supports day after day the awkwardness of an overweight patron, surely these three practices can support a heavy heart overwhelmed by adversity and life’s unexpectedness.