Living Out Core Values in Adversity
“You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people.” – Genesis 50:20
One of my favorite stories in the entire Bible is the story of Joseph. Joseph was one of Jacob’s twelve sons and his first son with Rachel, the woman he instantly fell in love with after the first time he saw her. Because of this, Jacob favored Joseph and gifted him a special coat to symbolize his affection (see Genesis 37:3).
As you can imagine, Joseph’s brothers were jealous of the preferential treatment he received from their father. To make matters worse, Joseph shared openly about his dreams, where he would one day rule over his brothers and his father. Because of their jealousy, Joseph’s brothers devised a plan to take his life. Ultimately, they chose to sell him into Egyptian slavery instead of murdering him (but they told Jacob that a wild animal devoured him).
You probably know what happens next if you’ve heard this story before. However, let’s pause to consider a question. What would you have done in this situation? Would you have fallen into perpetual cynicism? Would you become convinced the world was horrible and everyone was out to get you? Would you become filled with vengeance and the desire to pursue revenge?
I love this story because Joseph’s response was not what anybody would expect. Joseph responded with faith and integrity rather than carrying a grudge against his brothers. He responded to his situation with purpose and conviction rather than reacting out of anger or frustration.
Once he arrived in Egypt, he became a slave in the house of Potiphar, a high-ranking Egyptian official. Potipher was impressed with Joseph and entrusted Joseph with everything in his house. However, the relationship ended poorly when Potipher’s wife lied to her husband and said that Joseph tried to seduce her. This false claim unfairly landed Joseph in prison, where he again found favor in the eyes of the individuals in charge because of his character and diligence.
Ultimately, Joseph rose to power in Egypt. He was released from slavery and made second-in-command to Pharaoh. He reconciled with his brothers and even saw his father again during his reign. Although his story ends on a high note, it doesn’t eliminate the struggles and obstacles he faced throughout his life. At the same time, that’s not the point.
As we bring this story home and consider what it means today, we must remember that obstacles are inevitable. I once heard a church leader say that each person is either enduring a trial, coming out of a tough season, or preparing for a future difficult time. What matters is not if we experience obstacles but how we respond when we face adversity.
The ability to persevere through hard times is a key component of “The Pursuit” (the title we’ve intentionally chosen for this blog), and it’s what stands out to me from Joseph’s life. Joseph didn’t allow his struggles to defeat him or compromise his values. Instead, Joseph shined brightest when the odds were stacked against him. He leaned into his faith and character despite what was happening around him.
As Joseph reflected on his journey at the end of his life, he shared a powerful message with his brothers. He acknowledged that they intended to harm him through their actions, but he reminded them of how God chose to use the situation for good.
Joseph’s declaration is a powerful perspective on God’s incredible redemptive power. At the same time, it’s an invitation to see God’s hand in all seasons of life – the good, the bad, and the ugly. It reminds us to live out our core values and faith, even when faced with adversity. Finally, it’s an encouragement that we may not know what lies ahead, but God is always in control, and God will work in mysterious ways when we step back and allow God to lead our lives.
“Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.” – James 1:2-3