Turning Failure into Triumph

“As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today” (Genesis 50:30).

Joseph’s reply to his brothers caps a life filled with dramatic changes and upheaval. He was sold by his brothers to Egypt, imprisoned on a false accusation, but then promoted to the highest position in the land. Joseph demonstrated a remarkable ability to adapt to the situation at hand. Because of his trust in God and faithfulness, he turned a certain tragedy into a blessing.

Many of our problems stem from a bad reaction to what may be a good thing. We didn’t want something, or we didn’t welcome a change brought on by circumstances. Joseph must have had his moments rotting in prison, but on balance he maintained an excellent attitude toward seeming failure. What was his secret?

1. He maximized his situation.
We don’t find Joseph fretting about lost opportunities or misfortune. Instead he made the most of what he was given. He was sold as a slave, so he worked himself up to be head steward of the household. Once thrown into prison, he soon was put in charge of the other prisoners (Genesis 39:21-23).

We need to learn from Joseph’s example when we’re tempted to grow bitter about lost opportunities. God has you where you are for a very specific purpose. For Joseph, it was to save many people alive from an approaching and severe famine. For you it might be something else.

2. Joseph persevered.
At times he must have grown discouraged, but he pressed forward trusting God. When we’ve had the rug pulled out from under us, we tend to grow listless and even depressed. Joseph quickly regrouped and trusted God. Sometimes we faint immediately before the prize. Joseph waited for God’s deliverance and lived to see the results.

3. Joseph did not grow bitter.
He replied in kindness to his brothers, the very brothers who did him wrong. When we experience setbacks, we may be tempted to grow bitter. But the complete story has not been written yet. People who allow bitterness to creep in end up hurting themselves more than others. It’s far better to follow Joseph’s lead and not grow disgruntled with life over missed opportunities or failures. God will lift us up one day, and praise will fill our mouths (1 Peter 5:10).

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