“Can we find anyone like this man, one in whom is the spirit of God?” Genesis 41:38 NIV
Are you facing a tough transition in your life? I’ve faced many of them, and Joseph in the Old Testament is my model of integrity for facing those difficult transitions with greater faith.
Joseph persevered through major transitions in his life, and his faith propelled him through. These are four transitions Joseph endured that can help our faith grow.
Transition 1: Abandonment
Joseph was suddenly cut off from his mother, father, and younger brothers when his older half-brothers sold him into slavery. He was thrown into a pit, handed over to traders, and taken to a distant land, all against his will. He must have felt betrayed, rejected, and traumatized. Abandoned and cursed. I understand those feelings as an adult child of divorce. I am encouraged that I have a biblical example of someone else who handled similar emotions.
We can draw affirmation from Joseph’s story. Even though Joseph was abandoned by his family, he was never abandoned by God. His Heavenly Father continued to protect and guide him in his years of abandonment. God does the same for us.
Transition 2: Imprisonment
Joseph was falsely accused and sent to prison for several years. Even when he had a chance for release, he was forgotten.
God used those dark years to shape Joseph’s character. He smoothed the rough edges of Joseph’s youthful boasting and transformed him into a humble servant who gave God all the glory.
The years of Joseph’s imprisonment were his years of refinement. God had not forgotten the dream he planted in Joseph’s heart. He used the prison years to shape Joseph into a wise leader.
If you feel like you are in a prison during your transition, God can use it to refine you too. Don’t despise those times of obscurity—they may be the best paths for God to grow your faith.
Transition 3: Rise to power
Joseph was so close to the Lord, even during his prison sentence, that the pagan Pharoah recognized his faith: “Can we find anyone like this man, one in whom is the spirit of God?” (Gen. 41:38 NIV) Pharoah made Joseph his second-in-command. Through God’s direction, Joseph used his wisdom and discernment to make the land of Egypt the center of provision in a severe famine.
You don’t know how God will use your times of trial to provide triumph in the future. Fix your hope on the fact that God never wastes pain, and he may even choose it to elevate your position someday.
Transition 4: Reconciliation
Joseph’s brothers came to Egypt out of desperation. He recognized them immediately, but they didn’t know him in his Egyptian regalia. He put them through a series of tests until he couldn’t stand the tension any longer. Then Joseph revealed himself to them with weeping and kisses.
He reassured his brothers, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” (Gen. 50:20 NIV)
God intended these things for my good: my parents’ divorce, my abiding loneliness, my seasons of depression, my troubled marriage and my challenges in family relationships and work situations. Though I couldn’t see it in the middle of those circumstances, I see now how each of those trials shaped my character.
God is using your trials to help you cling to him as your Father, search him out as your Savior, depend on him as your Redeemer, and trust in his as the Lord God Almighty.
I like this quote from Larry Fowler:
Joseph’s situation presents the greatest test of faith that could face a young person: a hedonistic culture opposed to God, continual temptation, extreme physical and mental hardships, and zero spiritual support. Joseph was all alone…There was no external support to keep him on the straight and narrow; it was only his integrity, his own heart…In facing it all, he remained faithful, righteous, and committed to God.
Fowler, Larry. Raising a Modern-Day Joseph. David C. Cook: Colorado Springs, 2009.
Joseph is my spiritual mentor. He didn’t let his tough transitions defeat him. Joseph’s tough transitions refined his character and strengthen his faith.
What have you learned from the way Joseph weathered transitions?