He sent a man before them – Joseph – who was sold as a slave. They hurt his feet with fetters, he was laid in irons. Until the time that his word came to pass, the word of the Lord tested him. Ps 105:17-19
I think the story of Joseph is my favorite story in the bible. It’s a true riches to rags to riches story. It’s about a man who had everything bad happen to him (through no fault of his own), but kept the best attitude about it no matter where he was.
Joseph loved God from his youth. He was much different than his 10 older brothers, who sought their own self-interests. When Joseph was still young God gave him a dream. God gave him the dream twice (in two different ways) so Joseph could be undeniable sure that this was from God and this was going to come to pass (just like God gave Pharaoh his dream twice). Joseph had his first lesson in dream interpretation. This lesson came in handy for him later in life.
But Joseph’s vision from God wasn’t to come to pass right away. He had to be trained and tested. The calling that he had was great, so the training he would need was intense. He was to be second in charge of the greatest empire in the world at the time. He needed to be ready. So God used the evil hearts of his brothers to have Joseph sold off to his first school of training, which was slavery. When Joseph passed the exam there, God promoted him to prisoner in a filthy jail. This was his higher education. God was with him the whole time and in both circumstances he rose up to leadership. Finally the time came that God had ordained for him to enter in to his position in which he would make a great impact on the world. He went from slave, to prisoner, to prince.
The thing that makes Joseph so special is his attitude in all of this. First, he is done wrong by his own family, by his brothers. They sell him off into slavery when he is only 17 years old. Instead of being angry and bitter, Joseph works hard and becomes prominent in his slave master’s house. His slave master puts him in charge off all that he has. And, lo and behold, when he is doing good there, he is accused of rape and thrown in jail. In jail, instead of being bitter, he works hard and becomes in charge of everything at the jail. The warden puts everything under his care. But then, when he helps someone out, they forget about him. He spends thirteen long years between slavery and prison. Plenty of time for him to become a bitter and hateful man. But he doesn’t. He remembers the dream that God had given him. He works hard and has a good attitude. And it pays off for him.
In the same way God puts us into places to train us, to get us ready for the place that He has for us. We need to pass the test that God has given us in order to move up to the next level. The children of Israel walked through the desert for 40 years. It should have only taken them a few weeks, but they would never learn the lesson God was trying to teach them. They had to take trip after trip around Mt Sinai, because they were complainers. They didn’t have the attitude of their father Joseph. They complained and bickered for 40 years in the desert and because of that God never let them into the promised land. Their children went in, but they died in the wilderness.
I believe that many Christians die before they ever fulfill the calling God had for them. Why? Because they have the wrong attitude about where they are. They want to graduate without ever taking classes. They despise the small place where God has them so they can grow. They don’t learn the lessons that God is trying to teach them.
Where ever you are right now, recognize that it is a place that God could have you to prove you. Maybe God gave you that job that you hate to prove you. Maybe He is waiting on you to pass the test. Maybe He is waiting for you to roll up your sleeves and work hard as unto the Lord and not unto man. And He may have you there for a few years. Maybe even 13 years or longer. Instead of being bitter, we need to have the good attitude that Joseph had. God will bless you if you do and eventually He will promote you to the place where you were meant to be.