So here was Joseph, at the bottom and in danger. Things could not be any worse! Yet, as we the readers know, Joseph was on a journey to becoming one of the most powerful and wealthiest men in the ancient world.
This was the beginning of Joseph’s journey to success. From the pit, Joseph would be sold to a band of gypsies, who, in turn, would sell him as a slave to a prestigious Egyptian master. From there, Joseph would rise in rank only to be sent to prison on false accusations from his master’s wife.
Yet, Joseph’s imprisonment would lead him to encounter one of Pharaoh’s servants who eventually would bring Joseph to Pharaoh himself in order to interpret a dream. Joseph would successfully interpret Pharaoh’s dream, which would earn him the honor of becoming second-in-command to Pharaoh, ruler of the world’s super-power.
So in hindsight, Joseph’s “rock bottom” was the springboard for his rise to the top. His journey was full of strange twists and turns, ups and downs. And yet, it was constantly moving Joseph in the right direction as he approached his own personal success. That, in turn, would allow him to be the savior and sustainer of Jacob’s children when they experienced famine in Canaan. From a beginning that appeared hopeless, Joseph ended up better off than he could have ever imagined. How mysterious and wondrous are God’s ways.
Most people these days are living in the fast lane. We speed through life, thanks to the many conveniences and miracles of modern technology. We are faster, more productive, and can do more in 24 hours than our ancestors could have done in 24 years.
Why are we moving so fast? Why are we accomplishing so much? The answer for most of us is that if we do more, we will have more. More effort equals more of whatever it is we want in life. However, the Sages caution that putting in more effort than is reasonable can actually detract from reaching our goals. When we forget that God is in control, we sometimes have to wait until we learn that lesson so we can then reach our goals.
Praise the Lord, my friends, in all things. Praise him whether you are enjoying the comforts and blessings of your life, or you are finding yourself at your own rock bottom. Praise God especially when all seems lost! It is precisely when all seems lost that we find some of the greatest treasures in life. It’s when we hit rock bottom that we find that God is truly our Rock and Redeemer.
Perhaps your childhood was less than ideal. Perhaps you had an alcoholic father, an absent father, an abusive mother, or an aloof mother. Perhaps you lived in poverty, grew up in an orphanage, a foster home, or with parents who felt you were a bother instead of a blessing. Even if you had a wonderful childhood, I bet you know someone who didn’t.
Let me assure you of this, no matter what your childhood memories hold, God can and will use every bit of it for His purposes and for His glory…if we let Him. It doesn’t matter how you started; what matters is how you finish.
Paul said, “This one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14). Paul had to put his past behind him to accomplish what God had called him to do in the present.
Likewise, when we put our painful pasts behind us and obey what God is calling us to do in the present. we will experience a fruitful, fulfilling, fascinating adulthood. He can take those miseries of the past and turn them into ministries in the present. He can take our messes in life and turn them into messages of hope. God took a frightened orphan girl and used her to accomplish a great mission. He did it for Queen Esther. He wants to do it for you.
Difficulties in life are unavoidable. So we need a daily dose of God’s grace if we are to walk through trials with confidence that there is great reward on the other side. If we rely on our own strength, however, obstacles will appear insurmountable, leaving us discouraged and ready to give up.