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When Life Seems to Have Dealt Us a Bad Hand

Are you familiar with the story of Joseph in the Old Testament? I am going to assume that if you are on Heather’s Blog page you are most likely a sweet Christian like she is. But perhaps you are a sweet girl that is new to reading the Bible, or you’re just a curious onlooker, and you’re not familiar with this guy or his story. Is it ever a doozy! I will try to help catch you up to speed.

Joseph grew up in a household of boys. There were twelve of them to be exact. They say that girls bring drama. Sheesh! These guys loved to argue and to get into all sorts of trouble. But sweet little Joseph, he was the goody two shoes, who was obviously Dad’s favorite, and he really knew how to get on their nerves. One day, they decided that they had enough of Daddy’s favorite, and they decided to sell him to some slave traders.

Can you imagine how you would feel in that same situation? Ever had a guy break up with you? Has a friend betrayed you? Perhaps you were on the receiving end of some parental abuse? These guys had planned to kill him, but opted for plan B. No one I have ever had in my life sold me into slavery. That’s an all-time low, I think. I'll take the boyfriend breakup hands down before I want to be sold into slavery. Talk about rejection!

Fast forward. Joseph is in Egypt. He’s worked his way up the ladder and has landed the best slave job out there. Catch this. He is still a slave. Still, this is a step up from the shackles he had worn as he shuffled along on his journey to Egypt. He’s learned to be happy. No one gets promoted without a good attitude and a great work ethic. Then one day, his employer’s wife falsely accuses him of trying to rape her. Don’t you just love it when you’re falsely accused! Ever been falsely accused? For him, she is willing to watch him go to jail because he has rejected all her sexual suggestions and she can’t stand that her advances have been spurned.

The last thing I want to mention is that after being in prison with what might be considered white collar workers, two of them have some weird dreams. God shows Joseph what the dreams mean. One of them, the Executive Sommelier for the Pharaoh, was told that he would regain his position pairing the Cabernet with the Gouda once again. Joseph says to the guy, “Please, when things go well with you remember me. Mention me to Pharoah. I was kidnapped. Maybe it will go well with me.”

This is where I want to pick up our story. “Pharoah’s chief cup-bearer however, forgot all about Joseph, never giving him another thought.” Genesis 40:23

How many bad things can happen to one guy! Talk about disappointment after disappointment. Ever helped someone who was glad to take your help, but when they didn’t need you anymore forgot all about you? I wonder if Joseph had a little window in his cell that he could look out of, hoping that someone would come to his rescue and get him out. Life had dealt him some cruel blows and truly it wasn’t fair. Immature people process through a lens of life being fair, and cry and whine. Sometimes that immature person is me and I nurse my wounds when I should learn to shake them off. There is a legitimate time to cry, but there are times when the crying needs to stop.

I am intrigued by Joseph’s good attitude. His lack of self-pity. His emotional restraint, even though if you read the story, he is quite a sensitive guy. I counted five times where he is crying in this drama. He knew what it was like to be deeply hurt by people. How did he come out on top?

Joseph knew that the things that were happening in his life were only taking place because God was allowing them to. Nothing is allowed in our lives that doesn’t have God’s approval. He allowed Joseph’s brothers to betray him, a seductress to falsely accuse him and get him thrown in prison, and he allowed Joseph to be used and forgotten.

I love Joseph so much. In all of this he believed the love that God had for Him. The Lord was with Joseph in prison. God’s word says to us, “Come close to God and He will close to you.” Joseph was becoming better, not bitter. As I look at the whole of the story, I can see that God values our faith more than our comfort. I don't like that. But, in our uncomfortable times He wants to reveal to us that He is in fact the comforter.


Later in the story the Egyptians will credit Joseph for saving their lives. Joseph was being trained all of those years back in prison. How many executives do you suppose he talked to? This was the Pharaoh's prison, not the prison for the general population. The people inside had some connections. When he got out of prison Pharaoh put him in charge of the whole country telling him, “There is no one wiser than you are. You’ve got the job!”

We all know that no one gets the position of running anything big without a good education of some kind, right? He is the CEO of the most powerful country in the world at that time. I can tell you what he didn’t do. He didn’t waste time on self-pity. He didn’t stay in the past. He moved forward. He was probably finding out what life was like for prisoner 5387 and where he came from, and what life was like growing up in his part of the country. He probably learned a lot about Egyptian fine dining and proper etiquette from the executive baker and wine taster. Perhaps, prisoner 5941 taught him the national anthem and the history of his country. He spoke two languages fluently. Who knows who taught him what, but he was more than smart enough to be entrusted with a country. Maybe it was in that prison that he would get the most well-rounded education. It was certainly where he would have intimate times with God, and he would feel His presence.

As I walk away from this brief look at a life well lived, I am challenged:

Play the hand you have been dealt. Play well. Concentrate. The only person who can play your hand is you, and you lose precious energy and time focusing on events and people that you cannot change.

The Lord is with you and every bit as available to you as He was Joseph, but God will not make you have a good attitude. He will not make you do anything. You must decide how you will play your cards.

Will you trust Him? That’s a winning move.

Will you learn from others around you? That’s a win.

Will you let go of the past? That’s a huge win!

Will you get to work? Win.

Will you forgive? Win!

That’s a lot of good moves! You are now winning. Your cards don’t decide how you will play the game. You do. Play to win.

Thanks for reading!



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