A Reason to be Thankful

Things had not gone the way I wanted them to go, and I was having a world-class “pity party.” Then, someone came along and said, “in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Th 5:18)”. While on the outside, I was saying “Amen,” and acting thankful because I’m supposed to be thankful, just beneath the surface I had an overwhelming urge to stuff that verse right down the guy’s throat. God had failed to fulfill my vision, and that was something for which I was NOT “thankful.”

Then, God arranged for me to teach a series on the life of Joseph, found in Genesis 37 and 39-45.

If ever there was a man with a right to be angry and less than thankful, it was Joseph. His 10 brothers brought “sibling rivalry” to a new level, by selling him as a slave to a band of travelers headed for Egypt, while convincing their Father that Joseph had been killed by a wild animal. As his father mourned the “death” of his favorite son, Joseph was reduced to menial slave labor in the house of Potiphar.

If I were Joseph, I would NOT have been thankful.

Joseph, however, handled the situation better than I would have. The scripture indicates that God was with him and blessed whatever he did. Joseph approached the situation with an expectation that God was with him and would work things out. Potiphar noticed that God was blessing and prospering everything that Joseph did, and being a smart man, he soon had Joseph running the house, and all of his business affairs. Meanwhile, Potiphar’s wife took a liking to Joseph, and tried to seduce him on several occasions. Joseph refused to compromise his integrity, and Mrs. Potiphar rewarded him by publicly accusing him of attempted rape. Joseph was removed from his position of leadership and thrown into prison.

If I were Joseph, I would NOT have been thankful.

Again, Joseph faced the situation with a better attitude, and God’s blessing was with him. Soon he was placed in charge of the entire prison, including two of the King’s personal servants, who had offended the King in some way. Both men had troubling dreams, and after sharing those dreams with Joseph, he interpreted them. In three days, one servant was to be returned to the King’s service and one was to be executed. Joseph asked the surviving servant to mention him to the king, for he was unfairly incarcerated. The servant smiled, nodded, and promptly forgot Joseph.

If I were Joseph, I would NOT have been thankful.

Joseph kept on being faithful to God, and letting Him work things out. Two years later, the king had two troubling dreams, and his servant finally remembered Joseph. Joseph not only interpreted the king’s dream, he suggested a course of action. The King responded by making Joseph second in charge of the entire nation of Egypt, second only to the King, empowering him to activate the plan that he suggested.

Nine years later, in the midst of a major famine, the same brothers who sold Joseph into slavery in Egypt bowed before him, begging to buy food. If it were me, I would have had the urge to tell them to go home and starve. Joseph, however, understood why God had caused him to go through so much, and why he was there, and he told his brothers, “Now do not be grieved or angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life. (Gen 45:5).

In Potiphar’s household, Joseph learned about the Egyptian way of doing business, and became a skillful business manager. In prison, Joseph learned about Egyptian governmental protocol and procedure, and the little nuances of conduct in the king’s presence. All this prepared him to stand before the King with confidence and quite proper conduct, and suggest a plan of action that showed a keen insight into the nature of God, and the nature of Egypt and her King. Joseph knew exactly how to get the King’s attention, how to impress him, and who was in control at all times.

Now, I AM thankful—even though things didn’t go my way. I know that God is still in control, and knows what He’s doing. In time, He’ll work things out for my good, just as He did with Joseph. That’s something to be Thankful for!

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