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Is This What God is Up to In Your Life?

Everyone once in a while when I read the Bible stuff pops up that I just plain never noticed before.  It’s been there for thousands of years.  I know I’ve read it before.  It’s just that I missed it.

Earlier this week I was in Psalm 105, and this jumped off the page. I’ve always wondered what God was up to when he let Joseph get sold into slavery, then betrayed by Potiphar’s wife, then thrown into prison to be forgotten about, only to be made prime minister of Egypt.  What a tough time that must have been if your name is Joseph.

But look at the GI-NORMOUS claim the psalmist makes about why God did this:

He called for a famine on the land of Canaan,
      cutting off its food supply.
Then he sent someone to Egypt ahead of them—
     Joseph, who was sold as a slave.
They bruised his feet with fetters
      and placed his neck in an iron collar.
Until the time came to fulfill his dreams,
      the Lord tested Joseph’s character.
                             (Psalm 105.16-19)

Those years in slavery and jail were awful for Joseph.  What was God doing?  Testing his character. We could go on about why God might not have chosen nicer or easier methods, but at the end of the day, the text is clear.

So, over to us.  Going through a hard time?  Unable to trace out God’s presence in your life?  Could it be that God is testing your character? 

And if that might be true — think of this.  When Joseph "passed" (he rarely if ever complained and trusted God completely through awful circumstances), God gave him incredible responsibility and power, knowing that because Joseph was a good steward of the bad times, he would be a great steward of power and influence when God raised Him up.

How am I handling the bad times in my life right now?  How are you? Is God watching you to see if He can trust you with great responsibility and purpose in the future?

Tough questions.  Great illustration from scripture.


  1. Joan on May 10, 2008 at 10:35 am

    This is such a thought provoking and prayer provoking topic. "Failing" seems to really weigh on us, but just the fact that we are all sharing and talking about it tells me God is in control and working through our sharing. My focus this week has been 'God is in control' – had a great conversation with a Christian friend at work (work creates far too many tests!)and after sharing we were renewed and ready to "pass". Our failures seem to always lead us back to where we need to be, but sometimes, yes, it becomes overwhelming and we're not sure if we've really got it right. Faith and trust are the keys for me and I need to remember that. God's love and forgiveness is amazing!
    Thanks for the lift everyone.

  2. L Fournier on May 9, 2008 at 9:16 pm

    So if we fail the character test and God is merciful in giving us opportunities to pass the test, does that mean that our hardships are going to keep repeating until we get it right? What about Job? How do we really know if we're on the right track? Is God proud of me and showing me off for how well I can hold up under the pressure? or am I completely clueless and missing the whole picture? How would I know?

  3. EM on May 9, 2008 at 7:04 pm

    Yes, Joseph passed the test, but I wonder if he ever wondered what was going on, or felt discouragement or even depression…

  4. ed on May 9, 2008 at 10:56 am

    Wow. this whole conversation has encouraged me because it is constantly reminding me to look to God. I needed this today. I find that too often I can forget about God in the tough times and the weight of them starts pulling me down. Even when we "fail" that test Jesus is still there with the opportunity to continue to Follow Him. When I read the Gospels and see how many times the disciples didn't get it yet Jesus still gave into their lives, working with them, and loving them, even when Jesus said to them you of little faith, look how they turned out. We are here today because of Jesus feeding into the lives of people, and the Holy Spirit guiding and empowering those same people who have failed and stumbled and grown and have continued to follow Jesus. And there are some who are still trying to figure out what path they are on and should be on.

  5. Casey Ross on May 9, 2008 at 7:14 am

    Pat, I hope you don't mind me jumping in. This is such a significant conversation for all of us b/c we all fail the test some times. I wonder…what exactly does "pass the test" look like. I don't think it means we avoid or deny stress and true emotions. I feel like God defines "pass" in a way that is full of grace and mercy. And I agree with Carey…God gives us a long time to take the test.

  6. Carey on May 8, 2008 at 10:25 pm

    Casey…thanks man. I so appreciate you.

    Pat…What a deep and helpful question.

    I'm not sure I've always stewarded the bad times well. But I think God is merciful, and he enjoys giving us new chances. I am not sure there was much of a difference between Peter and Judas. Both betrayed Jesus. Judas offed himself, stewarding the bad times without turning to God for mercy. Peter was shattered at his poor stewarding of some bad times, but he stuck it out long enough to receive Jesus' forgiveness. And then Jesus built the church on him.

    I don't know Pat, what you're asking is deep. The past is the past, the future is the future, and all we've got is the present. Peter exercised better stewardship as the moments advanced. I think that's an option God gives to all of us. In other words, it's never too late.

    What are some other thoughts?

  7. Pat D on May 8, 2008 at 10:14 pm

    What about everyone who "fails" that test?

  8. Casey Ross on May 8, 2008 at 8:26 pm

    Man, what a discovery! Your thought about being a good steward of the bad times is tremendous. I'm send people to this post tomorrow on my blog. Great thoughts! Thanks!

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