The morning of the day Joseph set out to check on his brothers was like any other day, bright and clear. As he set out adorning himself with the coat of many colors given to him by his father, he bid his father goodbye and most likely told him he would be back soon. He finally got to where his brothers were after searching for them till he was directed to where they were by a man who found him wandering in the field. Then, the unexpected started happening to him; he was maltreated, humiliated, stripped of his coat of many colors, cast into a dry pit, brought out from the pit and sold to the Ishmaelites for twenty pieces of silver, Gen. 37:28. The Ishmaelites sold him into Egypt unto Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh’s, and captain of the guard. Joseph became a slave in the land of Egypt, Gen. 37:36.
If anyone had told Joseph he would become a slave before nightfall of that day, he wouldn’t have believed. But that was what happened; in the morning of one fateful day, he woke up in his father’s house as a beloved son of a wealthy polygamous father; one who had all the freedom to do what he liked, ate what he liked, go where he liked to go; one who was served by servants and who was adorned with a special coat of many colors that was an indication of the special position and honor he occupied in the family. Yet by nightfall of that same day he had been stripped of his princely coat and became a slave in chains in Egypt. He was taken to the slave market and sold to the highest bidder who happened to be Potiphar all within a day! What a sudden downturn or downward change of life which could be referred to as a life of ‘from grace to grass’!
As if that sad experience wasn’t enough, as a slave in Potiphar’s house for close to ten years serving and doing all things expected of him with all diligence, he faced a further downturn of life when he was sent to the dungeon as a result of false allegations by Potiphar’s wife. The dungeon was a place of confinement with restricted movements, rationed food, and a place where prisoners are subjected to all manners of hard hardship and hard labor.
SUCH IS LIFE!
That is life for you! Life is full of uncertainties. It is full of sudden changes because everything in life has its season and time, Ecclesiastes 3:1-8.
Life has a way of surprising us with sudden changes that throws one off balance. Life changes unpredictably, one moment it is bright and sunny and at another moment it is dark and gloomy; one moment one is at the mountain top and another moment one is down in the valley; one moment one is at the zenith point the next moment one is down to zero point; one moment one is rejoicing, next moment one is mourning; one moment one has a house full of everything and at another moment one has lost everything as seen in the case of Job in Job 1: 1-19. Life is like a spinning wheel such that when it spins, those at the top go down/under while those beneath go up one moment, and the next moment those under go up and it keeps spinning like that. What is most intriguing about life’s changes is that unlike the spinning wheel that is controlled by man, no man has control over life’s sudden changes; no man can predict when it would happen, no man can prevent it from happening and no man knows for how long one remains before another change happens.
“For men also knoweth not his time, as the fishes that are caught in the even net, and as the birds that are caught in the snare, so are the sons of man snared in an evil time, when it falleth suddenly upon them” Ecclesiastes 9:11-12.
Man by technology can predict to a certain extent the times and duration of the natural seasons of summer, winter, autumn, and spring but not so with the seasons of life as it occurs to a man. This implies that no man has the power to have prior knowledge of change occurrences of life.
The time/duration one spends on one change differs from one man to another depending on the divine purpose it is meant to serve. Joseph’s own lasted for thirteen years.
Experiencing a sudden downturn or downward change in any area or endeavor of life is among the toughest and unpalatable experiences anyone can experience such that it can have great devastating effects on one. It is degrading, dehumanizing, and humiliating. This could result in serious challenges of shame, defeat, heartbreak, anxiety, withdrawal, self-pity, ill health, hopelessness, despair, depression, and suicidal thoughts. It can be overwhelming, consuming, and destructive on most people especially to young people if not properly handled.
Surprisingly, even though Joseph was a youth when he experienced a sudden downturn change in his life (from being freeborn to a slave) and was in that state for about 13 years, nothing recorded about him revealed he suffered any of the challenges associated with it. How did he manage to do this?
HOW JOESPH COPED
There is no doubt that his faith, relationship, and confidence in God’s presence with him helped a great deal in enabling him to cope in the thirteen years he faced downturn challenges in his life in a strange land. No one who believes in God and experiences the presence of God and His power in his/her life can be defeated spiritually by unpalatable life’s situation, affliction, sickness, or misfortune. This is because believing in God and living in the consciousness of God’s presence gives one sufficient grace to enlarge and expand one’s faith, hope, and strength. Joseph’s deep and unshaken faith in God and the everlasting truth he knew of God’s presence with him proved to be the anchor that stabilized the ship of his soul in life’s turbulent sea with its changes and motions. Truly, God is all in all, in and out of all the times and seasons of life to those whose total trust is in Him; He is their peace and rest in times of trouble and chaos; their light in their darkest hours; He is their shelter in the time of storm and their rock on a sinking land; He is their provider and sufficiency in times of lack; He is their companion in their loneliness; He is their strength in their weakness; He is their help in the time of trouble; He is their hope in the time of their hopelessness and He remains the God that never forsakes those who put their trust in Him, Romans 8: 35-39; Hebrews 13:5.
God is trustworthy in the time of life’s downturn changes because He is devoid of all changes, Numbers 23; Isaiah 41:4; Romans 1:23. He is the “I AM THAT I AM”, the one that was, that is and is to come, Exodus 3:14, Revelation 4:8. This means that His being, perfection, purposes, and promises are devoid of change. His knowledge and plans, His moral principles, and volitions remain forever the same. He is the Everlasting Rock – sure and solid; nothing shakes or moves him. His being unchanging implies He remains ever the same, unceasing and enduring forever. He is the owner of life and He created all times and seasons of life and is in control of everything pertaining to life and seasons. He changes times and seasons, Daniel 2:21. Nothing makes one feel secure and safe in the face of sudden life’s changes than knowing that the Almighty God one believes in is changeless and is the controller of all times and seasons of life.
Secondly, he believed God was in everything that happened to him and that He would see him through all challenges. This greatly helped him to adjust very fast and well to the unpalatable situations he found himself; He made himself at home in Potiphar’s household and carried his duty out so faithfully and with all diligence. Afterward, when he was sent to prison due to false allegation by Potiphar’s wife, he adjusted as well. He did not complain, become morbid or discouraged. He did not blame God or anyone else for his ordeals and his countenance and character did not change.
Thirdly, he persevered. Joseph’s dreams revealed he would have a great future. His being sold into slavery and imprisonment were a great contradiction to those dreams. For thirteen years he persevered and endured all sufferings before his dreams became fulfilled. He did not attempt to escape from his master and he did not cut corners. Instead, he put in his very best in all he did as unto the Lord and waited patiently serving his time.
COPING WITH DOWNTURNS OF LIFE
No one prays for a downturn of life yet it happens. No one is immune against it. It can be experienced by anyone at any age and at any time. To dare to be like Joseph in coping with life’s downturn changes, God must be a vibrant reality in one’s life and one must also believe and know that God is God and He is the portion of those who believe in Him no matter the circumstances they face. He is God both in the mountain as well as in the valley, He is God over the sea and on the land; He is God over darkness and light. He is God over all situations and circumstances of life. He is the God that determines the end of a thing from the beginning of it. He is the All-Knowing and All-Powerful God who can do exceedingly above what we can ask or think. He is the controller of all times and seasons. He holds your soul in life and everything about your future. Therefore, put all your trust in His unwavering love for you.
Misfortunes happen unexpectedly and can become overwhelming and are capable of making a shipwreck of one’s faith in God. No matter what happens you must not lose faith in God. Faith in Him is the anchor on which the ship of our soul holds on in the storms of the sea of life. It takes being grounded in faith in God to remain hanging on God for life especially in the face of tough downturn challenges.
As a child of God, know that experiencing a downward change is not something new or extraordinary or something peculiar to you or something caused by witches, wizards, or village people because God is in control of your life. The downturn of life is a common life phenomenon that happens to all. No power from the pit of hell can change what God has ordained in a believer’s life. People may make a mockery of us or shame and stigmatize you because of the things happening in our lives. However, there is nothing to be ashamed of when such happens. It is part of life. Getting depressed about your situation would not bring any solution neither is there any result found in running from one mountain to another, from one man of God to another, Jeremiah 3: 23. Blaming your life’s downward changes to the activities of your enemies and being bitter would not help you but would make you sick and miserable. Just be like Joseph and know that for it to happen God is aware of it, He is in it with you and He is in control. Adjust yourself to any situation you find yourself and make the best use of the situation.
One valuable lesson one can learn from Joseph’s downturn is that such conditions are not meant to destroy but to build one. It could be one meant to teach and train one in other important lessons which can only be learned in such situations as in Joseph’s case. Without being sold into slavery in Egypt, Joseph wouldn’t have come to the land of the fulfillment of his destiny. Without becoming a slave in Potiphar’s house, Joseph wouldn’t have learned about serving others and learning about the culture and traditions of those he was to rule over. Without his going to the prison, his gift of interpretations of dreams wouldn’t have become known by Pharaoh’s chief butler and wouldn’t have been brought to the notice of Pharaoh who elevated him to his princely position. Always remember that everything that happens to you has a purpose. This means that any situation you find yourself does not just happen, but that it happens for a reason.
When facing life’s downturns, please try to persevere because there is an allotted time and purpose for everything and this differs from one person to another. Joseph’s own was thirteen years while Job’s own was of a shorter duration. Therefore, don’t use another person’s timeline to determine yours because destiny differs. Don’t cut corners and don’t seek for a quick way out of it because doing so might prove fatal. Don’t give in to depression and despair! Don’t lose hope, but hope in God, Romans 5:5. Brace up and continue with your life as Joseph did. Don’t ever give up on God. Hope for the best in all situations of life. Move on with patience trusting only in the Lord, Romans 5:3; James 1:2-3. Know that it is he who perseveres to the end that shall be saved, Matthew 10:20. Trust in the Lord for He is good. Be still and know that God is the God that upholds all that fall, Psalm 145:14.
The table of life can turn at any time in one’s disfavor but know that it is not the end of your life. The downfall of a man is not the end of his life, Psalm 37:24. The downward changes anyone faces is not permanent, it has an end. One of the important lessons one can learn from nature is changes in its days and its seasons – winter, summer, spring, and autumn. Day and night each has its fixed times and duration. Each of the seasons has its own allocated duration and time of the year. Each has its peak and low times. No season is permanent, but they take turns and they all have their advantages and disadvantages. The day will give way to the night and the night to day. So no condition is everlasting. Everything happening has its expiry date or end. Knowing that no situation is permanent is of great encouragement to endure hard times. Whatever is happening now is not an end in itself. The road to success is long and rough, so persevere!
The downturn change period is not a time to sorrow, mourn, and be withdrawn. It is a time of sober reflection and getting closer to God in prayers and studying His Words from the Scripture. God’s desire for you in all situations is to be strong, courageous, and be of good cheer, Acts 27: 25. To achieve this, you must know that God is with you, that he loves and cares so much for you, will help you and make everything to work out for your good. You must not condemn yourself or involve in self-pity. Accept what has happened and relax. Don’t think too much about your past or your present predicament or your future because they are beyond your control and are of no help. Make the best use of your present situation. Relax and rejoice knowing that everything the Lord has ordained and said concerning you will surely come to pass. Pray always and wait on the Lord and He would make you rise again, Micah 7:7-8. Be of good cheer because God meets with only those who rejoice in Him, Isaiah 64:5. When life gives you reasons to be worried be resolute like prophet Habakkuk to rejoice in the God of our salvation no matter what happens:
“Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labor of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat;
the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls:
Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation.
The Lord God is my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds’ feet, and he will make me walk upon mine high places…” (Habakkuk 3:17-19).
As believers, it is important to live wisely because changes are bound to happen. So if you are rich today don’t make a mockery of those in lack for your fortune can nosedive the next minute while it upturns on your neighbor. Don’t look down on anybody. Make the best use of any situation you find yourself today for you don’t know what tomorrow has for you, Proverbs 27:1.
When things change and life looks hopeless, please don’t lose faith, and don’t be discouraged. Keep this in mind; “It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the Lord” (Lamentations 3:26). Know that you have what it takes to endure and come out victorious over all situations of life as a child of God, Romans 8:37. Don’t allow your emotions to have an upper hand over you because it can engulf you, so be a master over your emotions. God is with you and His grace is sufficient. Believe in God, work with all diligence with the potentials he has given you and you will put food on your table and cloth on your back. Don’t isolate yourself so that loneliness will not destroy you. Hope for the best in all situations of life. Go through the downturns that life will present with patience trusting only in the Lord. Don’t give up; with time things will get better for you.
CAST YOUR BURDENS UPON JESUS CHRIST FOR HE CARES FOR YOU, 1 Peter 5: 7c
I love the words of this nice song whose writer I don’t know:
“Life is easy when you’re up on the mountain,
You’ve got peace of mind like you’ve never known,
But things change when you are down in the valley,
Don’t lose faith, for you are never alone.
…For the God on the mountains is still God in the valley,
When things go wrong, He will make them right,
And the God of the good times is still God of the bad times,
The God of the day is still God of the night,
You talk of faith when you re upon the mountain,
But talk comes so easy when life is at its best.
Now it’s down in the valley of trials and temptations,
That is when your faith is really put to test.
No matter what you are passing through now God is telling you to be still and see the Salvation of the Lord as Joseph did.
If you are reading this and have not yet embraced God’s gracious salvation through Jesus Christ, please, come to Jesus now by taking the steps written below;
- Admit you are a sinner, Romans 3:23; 6:23.
- Repent of all sins, Acts 3:19. 1 John 1:9
- Believe that God loves you and that Jesus His only Son died for you, Romans 5:8, Acts 10: 40 & 43.
- Invite Jesus into your heart, Revelations 3:20
GOD LOVES YOU AND SO DO I.