It was yet another day and morning in the life of Joseph in prison where he had been jailed for an offense he did not commit. That particular day made it exactly two years that the chief butler who Joseph had thought would facilitate his release from the prison disappointed and failed him, Genesis 40:1- 22. He woke up as usual and went about his duty of going from one prison room to the other overseeing the welfare of his fellow prisoners.
Suddenly, the prison door flung open with the chief butler at the lead of other palace servants on an errand from Pharaoh to bring Joseph urgently to the palace. Pharaoh had dreamt the previous night. The dreams were so real and yet very terrifying that early in the morning he called all the palace servants and all the magicians in the land and narrated the dreams to them seeking interpretations. However, none of the servants or the magicians of Egypt could interpret the dreams. The king desperately and urgently needed a dream interpreter (vs 7-8). Then, the chief butler remembered Joseph, the dream interpreter whose trust he betrayed. He spoke of his encounter with Joseph the Hebrew dream interpreter whose interpretation of dreams had by him and the late chief baker came true as interpreted two years ago, Genesis 40: 9 -13.
Pharaoh had sent for Joseph to be brought before him to help interpret his dreams. His long-awaited freedom has come at last and unexpectedly! He shaved and changed his raiment from the prison uniform (vs 14). This marked the end of his unjust imprisonment. His freedom was offered on a platter of gold and made possible only by God so that no man will say he facilitated his release and share God’s glory. What a miraculous vindication and release from prison! God had brought all his challenges to an end. The thirteen years of fierce travails that were orchestrated as a result of him innocently narrating his dreams to his family members for which his elder brothers’ hated him and planned to kill him and his dreams and eventual sale into slavery had ended! Glory to God in the highest!
UNDERSTANDING LIFE’S CHALLENGES
“Yet man is born into trouble, as the sparks fly upward”, Job 5:7. This is because such is born into a sinful world under the rule of the devil the wicked one. This statement implies that everybody, old/young. Male and female, believers and unbelievers alike will encounter troubles in their life’s sojourn in this sinful world. These troubles are otherwise known as life’s challenges or turbulence. Most life’s challenges are very unpleasant causing us so much pain and heartbreaks. The way and manner one sees it and responds either negatively or positively are what determines the outcome.
There are different types of life challenges one can encounter, Such as:
1) LIFE’S NATURAL CHALLENGES: these are God-ordained life challenges based on times of seasons of life as written in Ecclesiastes 3:1-8. According to the scriptures God, our creator has plans and purposes He wants each of us to serve on earth before creating us. Therefore, God as the perfect architect of life in planning and designing each person’s life has included in it certain instances, occasions, and incidents, meant to help build up, teach, correct, discipline, train, develop and bring out the best of the individual according to the purpose of the individual. They have been carefully included in the structure of our lives so they are not avoidable. Just as the final physical structure of a building cannot be fully comprehended and appreciated while still in the building plan on paper until the physical structure is finished, so also can individuals not understand why most challenges are brought across our way until the end. Only God understands fully His own plans and purpose for each individual. Interestingly, no one particular challenge under the natural life challenges is permanent, they each have times allotted which cannot be added or subtracted from. So any life challenge in this category faced will surely pass away in its due season. They are not to ruin us but for our benefit. They give us unique experiences that spice up our lives, 2 Corinthians 4:7-10.
The good news is that God has given each of us the capability and grace, and everything else needed to endure and pass through all the different life challenges that we may face.
2) SELF-CAUSED CHALLENGES: These are challenges that are consequences/repercussions of each person’s past wrong choices and decisions made, such as choosing to live a promiscuous life most times lead to having sexually transmitted deceases and unwanted pregnancies; moving with notorious associations/gangs which may lead to been imprisoned and several others, James 1: 2,13: Galatians 6:7. The repercussions of such wrong choices and decisions made most times are terrible and life-long.
3) THE TRIALS OF ONE’S FAITH CHALLENGES: These are challenges put across our Christian faith as allowed by God to try our faith. Some can be very severe but at the same time endurable as seen in the case of Job, Job 1:6-12; 2:1-6. Faith related challenges have great rewards such as an increase of patience, James 1:3,4,12; chasten us Isaiah 48:10; purify our faith Matthew 3:3,4; 1 Peter 1:6-9; bring us to a better place, Psalm 66:10-12 and also glorify God, 1 peter 4:12-16.
4) FAILED TEMPTATION RELATED CHALLENGES: Isaiah 14:17. These are challenges that happen to one as a result of falling into the snare of Satan through sin. Such were the challenges that King David brought upon himself and his household as a result of the willful adultery he committed with Bathsheba and also killing her husband. No sinner will go unpunished and no peace for the wicked. Think twice before doing any evil because the repercussion of wrong choices or decisions made is capable of killing one or making one’s life miserable for life. Romans 6:23. Don’t give in to the devil, Ephesians 4:27
5) SATANIC ATTACK RELATED CHALLENGES: These are demonic and satanic afflictions suffered by those under his direct control, such as people in the occult or those given to him through idolatry, evil dedication, covenants, and sacrifices. Satan afflicts and bounds such persons at will with afflictions such as mental illness and demonic torments because they are under his power, Matthew 9:32-33; 12:22mark 5:1-14; 9:14-22. This is why we encourage people to run to Jesus Christ for the salvation of their souls so as to be set free from such terrible afflictions.
6) ENEMY CAUSED CHALLENGES: John 16:33. These are challenges brought into an individual’s life by Satan the arch-enemy of man using family household enemies and the external forces as seen in Joseph’s case. These household enemies out of hatred and envy of what they know about an individual’s glorious destiny would plan to destroy or kill such an individual by themselves or sell such into slavery unto outsider’s taskmasters.
Although Joseph’s travails/challenges might be seen as a physical one started by his brothers, however, the truth is that Satan the arch-enemy of God and man was behind it all. This he did because Joseph carried a supernatural destiny that would benefit not only himself, immediate family, and his entire generation but the whole human race. God had ordained that through Joseph, Abraham’s descendants through whom Jesus the Savior of the world would come from would be preserved in the land of Egypt from a devastating famine that would ravage the whole earth and that while on sojourn there, they would increase greatly numerically and prosper and develop into a great people that would become the nation of Israel, Genesis 12:1-3;15:13-16;45:5. The devil did not want anything of this and wanted to kill him and the dream to prevent God’s salvation from taking root, so he used his brothers. This was what was responsible for the horrifying attacks and temptations Joseph passed through because the devil had come to kill, destroy, and to steal, John 10:10. He wanted to kill baby Moses and baby Jesus for the same reason.
From Joseph’s challenges and all other Bible characters as Moses and King David, Daniel, Elisha we could see Satan wanted each of them dead at one time or the other because they are God’s light-bearers. If Satan did not succeed to instigate other people to kill a light-bearer at infantry through accidents or other afflictions, he would put suicidal thoughts in one’s mind to kill oneself. For this reason, great care must be taken by individuals to love life and determine to stay alive whenever Satan brings suicidal thoughts into one’s mind when facing challenges. He does this because he could recognize one as a glorious destiny carrier or one about to have a spectacular breakthrough. Remember he has come to steal, kill, and to destroy (John 10:10). Don’t ever entertain suicidal thoughts at all. Don’t allow him to use you to kill yourself and your destiny. SAY NO TO SUICIDE. Once you start having suicidal thoughts rebuke Satan, quickly cast out evil thoughts and imaginations as we are asked to do in 2 Cor. 10:5. Speak out and seek help.
The good news in this regard is that, as long as it concerns God’s ordained purpose for an individual’s life, Satan cannot succeed in killing a child of God so long that child of God does not play into his hands by living carelessly, sinfully, and killing oneself as Samson did because our lives are in His hand. Our lives are hid in Christ with God (Colossians 3:3). Satan can only go as far as God allows him as revealed in Job’s case. God most times turns challenges the enemy intended to destroy those that love Him for their good, Romans 8:28. Joseph testified of this of God in his case, Genesis 45: 5; 50:20.
6) SUFFERING FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS SAKE: Joseph was sent to jail by Potiphar because of false accusation leveled against him by Potiphar’s wife because he refused to sin against God and his master, Potiphar. Satan and his followers have great delight in suffering true believers for no just cause because they are living a godly and righteous life. These people suffer serious persecutions such as having their properties destroyed and even being killed at times.
DARE TO BE LIKE JOSEPH
For thirteen years, Joseph passed through imaginable and unimaginable hardship and pains. His victory story over all the challenges of the enemies he passed through came to be as a result of how he played his part during the time of his challenges on one part and the wonderful role God played in helping him to reach a victorious end on another part. From his example, we can see that we as humans truly have what it takes to overcome all life’s challenges no matter how hard and impossible their presentations might be with God on our side. Joseph responded positively to all challenges and this contributed in no small way to his victory. These responses are as follows:
1) He was pious and devout: This implied he believed and trusted in God and worshipped him alone. This automatically made him God’s special love and care candidate together with having all of God as his portion. He belongs to God and God is his all in all. He is on the Lord’s side of the camp, therefore all his life’s battles are the Lord’s; his enemies have God to contend with.
2) It is one thing to believe in God and it is another to also know him whom one believes in. It is the truth one knows of God especially His attributes and characters that help one stay strong in the time of life challenges when you are left by humans to face your fate all by yourself. Joseph knew God personally and intimately and this greatly helped him put all his trust in him and be able to stand strong when he was alone (Psalm 112:7).
3) He lived a consecrated life of purity, love, obedience, and fear of God. This positioned him as a candidate of God’s invisible presence, intervention, grace, and mercy. This is why he received God’s providence, mercy, and favor from men (Genesis 39: 2-3, 21, 23). God was with Him everywhere and in all His life’s challenges as He promised, Isaiah 43:1-3.
4) He lived in the consciousness of God’s invisible presence with him always. This helped him go through all challenges with fearlessness, boldness, confidence, and courage, trusting God to see and help him through. Living in the consciousness of the Omnipotent, Omniscient, Infinite, and Immutable God reduces challenges to nothingness. This was why he was never afraid or intimidated by any challenge. Fear is what Satan uses to make challenges look out of proportion and makes it seems insurmountable. Fear brings discouragement and it makes one accept defeat before even attempting.
5) He lived a spirit controlled life – a life devoid of the activities of the flesh. This helped him to exercise self-control, humility, kindness, compassion, determination, discipline, and all which enabled him to stand against the wiles of the devil through Potiphar’s wife.
6) He relied only on God and no one else, not even in his own understanding, Proverbs 5-8. He was in all his troubles all alone but with his God, no father, mother, brother, uncle, wife but himself and his faith in God. At that time, there was no church or pastor, so no pastor prayed with him, laid hands, or prophesied on him. Joseph maintained a fixed heart on the Lord and came out victorious because God helped him. Only God! (Psalm 62:2, 5, 6).
7) He walked through all his challenges with acceptance. This helped him to quickly adapt himself to any challenge and wade through it with confidence and ease. None acceptance of challenges is what makes the heart sad, bitter, sorrowful, heavy, and weak. It is what makes one complain, murmur, bitter, discourage, and blame God and others for one’s woes. All these rob one of inner peace, gladness, and strength needed to endure all challenges. Acceptance makes challenges easy and light to go through. He worked through all his challenges with focus, diligence, patience, perseverance, honesty, and integrity. These are all vital keys to overcoming any life challenge.
GOD PLAYED HIS OWN PART TOO.
Satan used Joseph’s brothers to plan to kill him and his dreams. However, their evil plans failed because he was a loyal believer in God, God was with him as a Mighty Man in Battle and backbone. He gave him the dreams and also protected and delivered him from all those incensed against him and used all their evils plans for Joseph’s good and His glory in the following ways;
1) GOD’S PROVIDENCE: God’s providence was something very prominent in all situations and this greatly helped him. Joseph’s brothers might have known their father would send Joseph to bring food to them that day, so, they deliberately did not pasture where expected of them, so that Joseph would wander in the wilderness and get killed by a wild evil beast. However, in the course of his wandering, a) God allowed him to meet a man who overheard their discussion of going to Shechem. b) The dry well where they put him was not there by accident but by His providence. c) The coming of the Midianites at that point in time was what made Judah persuade his brothers to sell him instead. d) His being bought by Potiphar a senior officer in Egypt and not by another person was by His providence. e) It was God that gave the two prisoners dreams. f) He was also the one that gave Pharaoh dreams that no magician in the land could interpret so that Joseph’s identity could be made known to Pharaoh to be released and elevated.
2) GOD PRESERVED HIS LIFE: a) God used Reuben to persuade his other brothers not to kill him but to put him in a well. b) He used Judah to suggest to the other brothers that he should be sold instead of being killed to prevent Reuben from taking him back home to their father which might eventually get him killed by the evil brothers. c) His being sent to prison instead of being killed as intended by Potiphar’s wife grave allegations. d) He made the chief butler forget about Joseph until the appointed time to also save him.
3) His mercy and grace were with him and gave him favor in men’s sight and every place he was supposed to face hard labor, Genesis, 39: 2-6, 21-23. a) His invisible presence was not only with him as promised but was also made manifest in his life for all to see, Genesis 39:5, 23. It was still what made Pharaoh give him that exalted position, Genesis 41:38 – 45.
4) It was God that made him prosper in all things he laid him hands upon, Genesis 39: 3, 23. Same with the giving of the power to give correct interpretations to dreams.
5) God gave him the grace, power, and strength to endure and overcome all his challenges. It was what enabled him to escape from Potiphar’s wife’s snare of sexual immorality.
6) God was behind his miraculous release from prison.
From what has been written so far, one can see that with God on one’s side it is possible to overcome all life’s challenges as Joseph did.
Even in cases of life’s challenges caused by one’s wrong choices and decisions, God can still help by giving a new lease of life and a new beginning.
He can also deliver those who are Satan’s lawful captives as He said in Isaiah 49:24-26.
Are you facing challenges for righteousness’ sake? Please hold on and don’t compromise your stand.
Are you a child of God passing through any challenge caused by your enemies? Please persevere. God will help you as He promised saying, “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea; I will help thee; yea. I will help thee; yea I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness. Behold, all they that are incensed against thee shall be ashamed and confounded; they shall be as nothing and they that strive with thee shall perish” (Isaiah 41:10 -11).
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)
- Forsake your evil ways (Isaiah 55: 6 – 7)
WITH GOD ON YOUR SIDE, YOU WILL OVERCOME BECAUSE “YOU ARE MORE THAN CONQUERORS THROUGH HIM THAT LOVED US.” (Romans 8:37).
GOD LOVES YOU AND SO DO I.