Navy Seals go through rigorous tests before receiving their trident. They are tested on their physical prowess, their ability to endure suffering, how they handle injustice, how they react to torture, how they lead, how they follow and more. And even if they endure all these tests it doesn’t guarantee they will be chosen to receive Navy Seal status. There is still a selection committee. It’s far worse if one of these seals chooses then to become Delta.
Joseph was no different.
When I think of what Joseph endured it’s really quite incredible. His heart had to be so deeply wounded. And yet..
- He lost his mother young
- He was profoundly rejected by his brothers
- He was separated from his father whom he loved
- He was sold into slavery
- He worked hard only to be accused
- He was tempted with sexual inappropriateness
- He was sentenced to life in prison
- He worked hard only to be forgotten
- He was abandon
At any point he could have become bitter and the world would have understood.
At any time he could have become angry towards God and exited faith.
At any time he could have been an apathetic slave and people would have understood.
At any time he could have slept with Potiphar’s wife to get back at all that had been taken from him.
At any time he could have betrayed Potiphar or the prison guard.
At any time he could have become bitter at being forgotten by the cup bearer.
If it were me…
If that were me would I have recovered from the hurt, the pain, the rejection? Would hurt, anger, bitterness and more than likely have consumed me?
I can’t nor do I want to live the hurt and pain Joseph experienced. But each one has its own hurts and heartaches. How in the world did Joseph ever not just survive but overcome these things?
But it was Joseph…
So how did Joseph overcome?
- Clearly he had to go through the process of forgiving his brothers. And truly his forgiveness was complete as he extended that mercy to them.
- He continued to honor the Lord even when he didn’t understand. He worked hard for his slave masters which I’m sure drew the mockery and contempt of his fellow prisoners. But his work was unto the Lord in all things
- I think he was free from his anger and bitterness of his soul by the time Potiphar’s wife tried to seduce him. I have found in life that unforgiveness, hurt and anger are huge factors in drawing a person into sexual impropriety. Forgiveness and freedom of heart gives a man or a woman strength to run from such indiscretions. And Joseph ran.
- He never lost his humility before God. Joseph always honored God. He made sure others know that it was not he who could interpret dreams, but God alone. I’m sure he was tempted to go the way of pride, but he didn’t.
- He did right to even his slave owners. He could have deceived Pharaoh or dishonored the captain of the prison guard, but he always worked hard for them.
The Heart of the Matter
For 13 years it looked like every dream of Joseph was not only lost, but he was in the most miserable of circumstances. But God’s hand was on him, and Joseph looked to the Lord and not to men.
The most important thing I think was Joseph kept his heart free–free from disappointment, bitterness, anger, hate and more. He was tried and tested again and again. He had hope and then horror, then hope, then horror, then hope and horror. Yet he never left his hope in God. So much so that he could see the hand of God even in his suffering.
For me it means I too must keep my heart free. Free from the hurt of disappointment, anger, unjust suffering and more.
It means I have a lot of heart house cleaning to do.