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You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. Genesis 50:20

I was talking with a friend the other day and as he shared a very stressful time of his life I said “People say God never gives us more than we can handle, but sometimes I wonder.” He looked at me and said, “God does give us more than we can handle, He never gives us more than HE can handle! That’s the only way He can get some of us to rely on Him.”

Throughout the Old Testament, and in our lives today we go through things that seem to hard to handle, we see our kids struggle with things they should never have to deal with. We see our parents fail in old age and our finances falter in troublesome times. We endure the trauma of broken relationships and death. In all this we look heavenward and say “When is enough, enough?”

Take a look at the life of Joseph for example. If you look at his family closely you will see that he grew up in a dysfunctional family with a weak father, a conniving mother and a bunch of brothers that were nothing short of bullies. Joseph didn’t help matters any when he told everyone in his family that someday they would all serve him! The tension around the dinner table must have been thick enough to cut with a knife!

When his brothers had had enough they beat Joseph up and sold him into slavery. Joseph was taken away by strangers to a far off land. He had no chance to say good bye to his family. He was in a strange land where his customs were odd and where the God he worshipped was looked down upon. He was lonely, wrongfully accused, misunderstood, forgotten, betrayed and in fear for his life.

In the midst of his calamity Joseph never lost sight of the fact that God was in complete control. Joseph’s situation wasn’t completely the fault of his brothers. He’d done some things that inflamed their anger. Yet he knew that God would eventually work everything out.

Joseph made the best of a bad situation as well! Rather than sulk as a slave he worked hard to elevate himself to a manager position. When Joseph sent to prison innocently, he didn’t become bitter, he became better. By the time Joseph had his chance for freedom, he was not only ready for life outside, he was ready for leadership.

When we are treated poorly our natural reaction is to retaliate. One day Joseph had that chance. The very brothers that were bullies when he was growing up, the very brothers who’d sold him into slavery, came for help. Joseph wisely tested them to see if they had changed, and then revealed himself to them. Even though he wasn’t obligated to give them anything he gave them food, shelter and  the most important thing any of us can hope for: FORGIVENESS.

You may be going through something you think unbearable right now. It could be the result of something you did or the actions of other abusive people. You may be feeling like there is no way out. In the midst of your pain, remember the life of Joseph. Throughout his struggle he never lost sight of a God who loves you, forgives you and can make whatever you are going through turn out for good. It may take many years, but someday you will be able to look back and see His way was best. He may give you more than you can handle, but He’ll never give you more than HE can handle!

PRAYER: Holy and powerful God. I thank you for stories like that of Joseph that remind me that you are always in control and that you can take the worst things in life and make them useful to your Kingdom. I confess that the struggle I’m in may be partially my own fault. I also suffer at the hands of abusers in my life. Please forgive me for my part in the struggle, protect me from abuse, but most of all, help me patiently acknowledge your leading and wait for you to make all things good for your sake. Thank you for your love and forgiveness. In Jesus name, Amen.


When the days of mourning had passed, Joseph said to Pharaoh’s court, “If I have found favor in your eyes, speak to Pharaoh for me. Tell him, ‘My father made me swear an oath and said, “I am about to die; bury me in the tomb I dug for myself in the land of Canaan.” Now let me go up and bury my father; then I will return.’ “ Genesis 50:4-5

 Yet another chapter in the life of Joseph had come to an end. He’d enjoyed living within the blessing of his father in a large family. He’d experienced the humiliation of being rejected by his own brothers and sold as a common slave. He’d lived through years of suspicion as a result of false accusations. He’d struggled through the stress of leading an entire nation through difficult economic times as a result of a major drought. Egypt became a great nation because of the honest and generous dealings of Joseph. He’d rejoiced in the reconciliation of his family.

Now, his father Jacob had died. The death of a father is never easy. It doesn’t matter if it is early in life or during adulthood. Losing dad is tough. Even when a father has been abusive, absent or alienated that loss is traumatic.

After Jacob died and the mourning rituals were complete it was time for him to be laid to rest. As he was dying he’d asked Joseph for one thing, to be laid to rest in his homeland, the land of his father Abraham, Canaan.

Joseph had always been a man of his word. This time would be no exception. Gaining special permission and the blessing of Pharaoh, Joseph and a large contingent of his family went to Canaan for the burial.

This was no small task, nor was it an ordinary request. Yet it was granted gladly by Pharaoh. Joseph was a major figure in the government of Egypt. To let him go with a large group of people had mutiny and political threat written all over it. Still, he was granted that favor. Why?

Joseph was allowed to go bury Jacob because throughout his life Joseph had proven to be a man of integrity. In all of his business dealings he’d proven that he could be trusted and that he was a man of his word.

Secondly, Joseph lived in a land where many gods were worshipped. Even though the Egyptians didn’t follow Jehovah God as the people of Jacob did, they were impressed with the honesty, the hard work and the devotion of God’s people.

Joseph gained the respect of those around him because he was devoted first to God and then to his neighbor. It wasn’t until long after Joseph died that the Egyptian government turned against God’s people. His testimony lived on for many years.

Each of us, as Christ-followers, can take a lesson from the life of Joseph. We are being constantly watched and scrutinized by those around us to see if our faith really makes a difference in our lives. Can we be trusted? Do we do what we say we’ll do? Are our business dealings honest? Are we someone that can be counted on to offer support emotionally, physically or spiritually to anyone regardless of what they have done to us?

Few of us have had the life that Joseph had. We’ve not been in prison, sold as slaves or rejected by family. Few of us have stayed the course and remained people of integrity as well. Our past mistakes don’t matter to God. He can use you no matter what you have done.

PRAYER: Jehovah God when I look at the life of Joseph I’m both amazed and embarrassed. I’ve not suffered to the extent he did, yet I’ve made some pretty stupid decisions that have kept me from being the man/woman of integrity I know you want me to be. I ask that you forgive me for the times I didn’t stand strong. Empower me to live more fully for you so that your love may flow out to those around me. I ask this for your sake and in the name of your son Jesus Christ. Amen.


So he took Joseph and threw him into the prison where the king’s prisoners were held, and there he remained. But the Lord was with Joseph in the prison and showed him his faithful love. And the Lord made Joseph a favorite with the prison warden. Genesis 39:20-21 (NLT)

It’s the rallying cry of men and women, boys and girls from almost the time they can first utter words. “It’s not Fair!” You hear it in the voice of a two-year old when they want a certain toy, ice cream for breakfast or are unable to play in the middle of a busy street. You hear it from a teen-ager when the curfew is too early, homework is required to be done, and any rules are expected to be followed. You even hear it from Olympic athletes who are told that they are only second best in the world this time around, not first. You hear it when God doesn’t answer prayers in the time and fashion we desire.

Sometimes it seems like the events of life and the people around us are all stacked against us. We feel like even God Himself just “Isn’t that into us.” We read stories of how this person picked them up from failure to succeed, or how that prayer was answered miraculously by God, or families on the verge of breakup are saved, and we wonder, “What about me?”

The life of Joseph is a good example of someone whose life was anything but fair. He felt the rejection of family when his brothers sold him into slavery. He was wrongfully accused of rape and thrown into prison. Once there, he befriended a couple guys who said they’d speak up for him, but forgot.

It couldn’t have been easy for Joseph. There must have been many times when he could have grown bitter or angry at God or at the many people around him who let him down. But Joseph didn’t do that. Even in prison he was seen by the warden as being a man of character. The skills he learned while in captivity helped him later in life to be one the greatest leaders Egypt ever knew.

It’s hard to admit, but many times when life seems unfair,  and we get angry or bitter,  it’s because whatever the ‘unfairness’ is makes us feel bad about ourselves. We feel like failures.  True, Godly character is seen in a person by how they react when the circumstances of their life are not fair.

When we realize who we are in Jesus the attacks of the enemy don’t affect us as easily. We can rise to the challenge and use the unfair events of life as stepping stones for later success.  Starting today, look for ways to allow God to use you in whatever life is throwing at you. Trust Him to take care of the inequities you are being subjected to. Let Him direct your actions to change your world.

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, right now there are so many things in life that are making me angry and keeping me from experiencing all you have for me in life. Please forgive me for the anger I have towards you and others. Empower me to use this trying time in my life to show others the great and loving God you are. Give me wisdom t know how to act with Godly Character like Joseph did. Amen.

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