Genesis 39:20-23


What do you do when everything is coming at you, and you don’t know whether to hold on or let go? You’re doing nothing wrong, applying proper principles, but being battered from every side.


Joseph in the book of Genesis faced some of the worst difficulties anyone ever experienced. He was sold into slavery by his jealous brothers, trafficked to a foreign country, falsely accused of rape, and thrown into prison with no hope of release. None of this made sense. He was being punished for doing everything right. Should he blame the God of his fathers and just give in to despair?


Yet in all this, the Bible keeps saying God was with him, and Joseph rose to become prime minister of Egypt.


I’m going to give you five principles from Joseph’s life to apply at a time like this. They will give you direction when life doesn’t seem to make sense.


Don’t demand to understand.


I’m not saying you shouldn’t try to understand, but don’t demand it. Sometimes the inexplicable happens. You’re serving God, and life falls apart. Satan whispers, “Where’s your God now?” That’s when you must, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your path” (Proverbs 3:5-6).


The Christian life isn’t all joy and sweetness. You won’t always understand. Many of God’s greatest saints walked in darkness for part of their lives.


  • Job thought God must want to kill him. 
  • Habakkuk couldn’t understand why God let evildoers to get away with sin.
  • John the Baptist from his prison cell asked Jesus, “Are you the messiah, or should we look for someone else?”
  • Paul wrote, “We are perplexed—we don’t understand.”


We’re all going to experience times when things won’t make sense. We ask, “God, where are You?” That doesn’t mean the devil has won, but that God is allowing it. Darkness can never put out the light. If God takes away the light, trust Him and don’t demand to understand (see Isaiah 50:10-11).


Joseph didn’t understand what God was up to, but by the last chapter of Genesis we see it was all part of a great mosaic God was creating.


Don’t fail to be faithful. 


Joseph wasn’t a fair-weather Christian. He didn’t pout and get angry at God. In darkness and persecution, he still faithfully served. Some church members, when tragedy strikes, drop out. They fold up. Don’t do it. Even when it doesn’t make sense, keep singing, praying, witnessing, submitting to the Lord. Joseph did, “and God was with him.”


Don’t bow to bitterness. 


We never hear bitterness or complaint from Joseph. Don’t allow bitterness to get a foothold (1 Peter 2:20). One of the greatest tests in life is not how you react when you’re punished for doing wrong but when you’re persecuted for doing right. Bitter people aren’t nice to be around. Joseph’s attitude was one of the reasons God was with him.


Be willing to wait. 


For two years Joseph remained in prison. But the God who’d been with Joseph when he was a boy was with him when he was forgotten in prison. God will bring you out in His time. He knows where you are. The very hairs of your head are numbered.


When you don’t understand, don’t get exasperated. God is never early or late but always on time. Over and over in the Bible we’re told to wait upon the Lord. “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time” (1 Peter 5:6).


When you don’t understand, be willing to wait.


Don’t let dreams dissolve.


The dream planted in Joseph’s heart when he was a teen came true (Genesis 41:37-42:8). God didn’t fail Joseph and He will not fail you. A wise man once said, “Don’t doubt in the dark what God has shown you in the light.”


One day God will make everything right. Don’t lose your faith when life doesn’t make sense. That doesn’t mean it won’t make sense one day. Serve Jesus. Never quit. Give Him your heart and life. Never lose your dream.