Are you a Jacob or a Joseph?

 

©iStock.com/ geotrac

©iStock.com/ geotrac

Isn’t it amazing how differently people can respond to the same (or similar) circumstances? We see this in Bible characters, too. One example that particularly sticks out to me is the worlds-apart summaries that Jacob and Joseph provide of their respective lives.

Joseph had it rough—we can probably all agree on that. His own brothers sell him into slavery. After years of proving his worth as a slave, he’s accused unjustly and tossed into prison. He does his best to make other prisoners comfortable, and they refuse his simple request that they remember him. Few of us have lives that rival Joseph’s for trials.

Yet Joseph tells his brothers,  “Do not be distressed or blame yourselves for selling me into slavery here; it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you” (Genesis 45:5, REB). Then he asked them to tell his father, “God has made me lord of all Egypt … Tell my father of all the honour which I enjoy in Egypt” (vv 9-13). He never even mentions his 20 years of slavery and imprisonment; he only mentions the good things that God worked out.

Jacob, meanwhile, has been living a pretty comfortable life, prospering tremendously in his chosen occupation while watching his family grow. Yet he’s spent the last 20 years mourning the loss of Joseph. And when he meets Pharaoh, he summarizes his life this way: “The years of my life on earth are one hundred and thirty; few and hard have they been” (Genesis 47:9).

Excuse me? Jacob apparently defined his entire life by the rough spots he’d experienced. But Joseph, who had reason to complain if anyone ever did, didn’t gripe about his trials; instead, he chose to see the beauty that God raised up from them.

It’s been said that the circumstances of our lives don’t determine our happiness, but our reactions to those circumstances do. In other words, we each choose whether to be a Jacob or a Joseph.

So how will I choose to view the hard times? Will I dwell on them, groaning and complaining? Or will I wait in quiet confidence, trusting that God is truly able to keep His promise to bring good out of any circumstance (Romans 8:28)?

1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Felicia Alvarez
    Mar 17, 2014 @ 15:59:38

    Such a great reminder! Thanks, Della.

    Like

    Reply

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