When it comes to keeping a right perspective in the middle of changing circumstances...I think Joseph in the Old Testament is under appreciated.
Reviewing the story in Genesis for this post, it blew my mind!!!!! None of his circumstances were due to bad choices, sin, or anything that was his fault!
Check this out:
- Joseph was deeply loved, favored by his father, Jacob, as he was the "son of his old age."
- Joseph's brothers were deeply jealous of him enough to want to kill him but instead, sold him into slavery to Egypt. They let his father think he was dead.
- Joseph is enslaved but the Lord is with him. An officer of Pharaoh, Potiphar, makes Joseph an overseer in his household.
- Potiphar's wife...she thinks Joseph is hot and pursues him with a vengence. It gets so bad for Joseph that he has to run away from her leaving his coat in her hands.
- Potiphar's wife tells Potiphar that Joseph tried to rape her.
- Into prison goes Joseph.
- After some time, Potiphar in his anger throws his cupbearer and his baker into prison. The cupbearer and the baker both dreamed dreams they could not understand. Joseph interprets them, indicating that the cupbearer will be lifted out of prison and restored to his office in 3 days. Joseph asks the cupbearer to remember him.
- The cupbearer is restored!...but he forgets Joseph (Joseph, who?) And Joseph remains in prison.
- Joseph remained in prison two more years then Pharoah dreamed a disturbing dream that no one could interpret.
- The cupbearer says to Pharoah..."Oh yeah, there was this guy...Joseph, I think his name was..."
- Joseph interprets the dream warning Pharoah that while there will be 7 years of a bumper crop in Egypt, it will be followed by 7 years of famine.
- Pharaoh makes Joseph head of his entire house and gives Joseph full authority over who could set foot in Egypt and who could not.
Now, even though things seem good for Joseph right now...how in the world did he maintain a right perspective? Here he is living high on the hog...and the most natural thing for Joseph to do is to be braced for the other shoe to drop...given his track record.
Eventually, Joseph's brothers come seeking to buy food from Egypt...along with his father...to avoid starvation. Joseph has the final say whether they will be saved from starvation because God had led him to this point...through ups and downs...disappointments...sufferings...misunderstandings...lies of others.
When his brothers realize it is Joseph...they are fearful realizing it is time their bills have come due!
But instead of being filled with contempt, resentment, bitterness, and anger...Joseph has been able to keep his mind renewed maintaining God's perspective in his reply:
Don't be afraid. Do I act for God? Don't you see, you planned evil against me, but God used those plans for my good, as you see all around you right now--life for many people. Easy now, you have nothing to fear; I will take care of you and your children. He reassured them, speaking to them heart-to-heart. Genesis 50:20 (MSG)Tomorrow, I'll begin to tell you a personal story...of how God intimately renewed my mind through a very difficult time.