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I seldom read the story of Joseph in Genesis 37–50 without a tear welling up in my eye. To me, it’s one of the most emotional stories in the Bible. As a seventeen-year-old, Joseph had dreams of grandeur, but his brothers seized him and sold him into slavery. For thirteen years, he endured slavery, prison, and heartbreaking disappointments. But at age thirty, he was summoned to the palace to interpret a dream for Pharaoh, and subsequent events propelled Joseph to the leadership of the greatest empire on earth at the time. His oversight of Egypt saved multitudes from starvation, and at the end of the story he saved his own family, including the brothers who had betrayed him. What he told them has reverberated through time: “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, NIV).
The Lord took the iron chains around Joseph’s feet and refined them into golden chains around his neck. His purity of heart and perseverance of spirit provide a powerful motivation for us, and his amazing story helps us see how our problems can prepare us for God’s purposes in our lives.
Problems - God - Hearts - Problems - DrJ
Rather than our problems defining us, we should let God refine our hearts through our problems. Dr.J. I. Packer wrote: “We should not…be too taken aback when unexpected and upsetting and discouraging things happen to us now. What do they mean? Simply that God in his wisdom means to make something of us which we have not attained yet.”
Joseph’s story is about a young man who was refined, not defined, by his problems. He illustrates a truth found throughout the Bible. The apostle Paul told us to boast “in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and...
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