How God Helps Us Rise Above the Tides when People try to Drown You

Troubles come at us many times like the tides coming in. The tide just keeps coming and coming. How many of you have experienced that?
Today we are going to look at one of my favorite characters in the Bible… Joseph. His story is important to the point that it takes 14 chapters in Genesis to tell it. You can find it in Gen 37-50. We won’t look at everything, but I want us to look at how he handled setback and trials in his life.
God took Joseph from being a fearful, but spoiled kid to being a prisoner and slave and them made him into the second most powerful man in Egypt .
For Joseph, setback or troubles kept coming in like the tides of the ocean. These seemed to push him away from his dream of doing great things in his life but God used them to position Joseph to save two nations… Israel and Egypt.
There would be no Israel today if it had not been for Joseph.
We will look at several types of troubles that roll into our lives like the tide, but today, I want to look at troubles that other people cause us to have. I mean sometimes we have health troubles, financial troubles, relational troubles, emotional troubles… all kinds of troubles.
One thing we know is that we will experience troubles in our lives but what we don’t always see is what God sees as we go through the troubles. God sees the whole picture… the end of the story. He knows how it will work out and how you will grow and the person you can become because of the troubles.
You may not realize it, but trials are not blockades to keep you from getting to where you want to go, they are stepping stones to where you wanted to be. They are the path that God wants you and I to take and he will use both open and closed doors to direct us. You will be able to clearly see this in the story of Joseph.
Background - God promised a man named Abraham that he was going to build a great nation through his family. Abraham had a son named Isaac, and Isaac had a son named Jacob and God later changed Jacob's name to Israel. That's where we get the nation of Israel and all the Israelites.
Now, Jacob had 12 sons from four different women. So this family, a little mixed up, has a lot of complicated relationships that you would expect to find in a blended family with four moms. Only this family is super blended, so you've got 12 half-brothers, and at least one sister whose name was Dinah from four different moms. Now that's a recipe for confusion and it's a recipe for competition.
The second of the youngest of those 12 brothers was named Joseph. And he's smart. He's good looking, he's talented, he's a dreamer. He's favored by his parents, even pampered by his parents, and he's hated by his siblings.
Joseph eventually became the #2 man in Egypt but to get there he will through 7 setbacks or trials.

Joseph’s Trials

1. Joseph grew up in a home where he was ignored and mistreated.

Genesis 37:3–5 NLT
3 Jacob loved Joseph more than any of his other children because Joseph had been born to him in his old age. So one day Jacob had a special gift made for Joseph—a beautiful robe. 4 But his brothers hated Joseph because their father loved him more than the rest of them. They couldn’t say a kind word to him. 5 One night Joseph had a dream, and when he told his brothers about it, they hated him more than ever.
Joseph was born in his dad’s old age and to his dad’s favorite wife, Rachel.
Some of you may have grown up in a home like this. You were bullied, put down, teased, ignored, and maybe you were even hated by your siblings. Maybe one parent liked you and the other was jealous of you. Maybe your parent was absent… alcoholic… aloof… Maybe you had brothers or sisters who took advantage of you… and your home life was just terrible. You were never happy growing up and you feel inferior to everyone else. Instead of a happy family, your family was filled with pain, competition and even conflict.
Have you ever thought about how God wants to use that in your life? Maybe God wants to use the pain of your youth in a good way… to shape you to help others going through what you have gone through.
Joseph’s first trial was growing up in a home where no one but his dad liked him.

2. Joseph was rejected by his family and thrown into a pit

Joseph’s relationship with his brothers goes from bad to worse… even homicidal.
Genesis 37:18–20 NLT
18 When Joseph’s brothers saw him coming, they recognized him in the distance. As he approached, they made plans to kill him. 19 “Here comes the dreamer!” they said. 20 “Come on, let’s kill him and throw him into one of these cisterns. We can tell our father, ‘A wild animal has eaten him.’ Then we’ll see what becomes of his dreams!”
Think you have it bad… They were going to kill their younger brother because they did not like him.
Genesis 37:21–24 NLT
21 But when Reuben heard of their scheme, he came to Joseph’s rescue. “Let’s not kill him,” he said. 22 “Why should we shed any blood? Let’s just throw him into this empty cistern here in the wilderness. Then he’ll die without our laying a hand on him.” Reuben was secretly planning to rescue Joseph and return him to his father. 23 So when Joseph arrived, his brothers ripped off the beautiful robe he was wearing. 24 Then they grabbed him and threw him into the cistern. Now the cistern was empty; there was no water in it.
That’s still brutal. Joseph’s entire family turned against him. One of the most painful experiences in life is being rejected. Most of us haven’t been tossed into a pit to die, but we have experienced rejection and it is painful. They didn’t want to actually kill him, but they were going to let him die slowly in the desert.

3. Joseph was sold out for money

Some of you may have had this happen at work.
When the brothers threw him into the pit, they were about to leave when they saw some traders coming and they got the idea to sell him and at least make some money off of him. The traders too Joseph and headed to Egypt.
Genesis 37:26–28 NLT
26 Judah said to his brothers, “What will we gain by killing our brother? We’d have to cover up the crime. 27 Instead of hurting him, let’s sell him to those Ishmaelite traders. After all, he is our brother—our own flesh and blood!” And his brothers agreed. 28 So when the Ishmaelites, who were Midianite traders, came by, Joseph’s brothers pulled him out of the cistern and sold him to them for twenty pieces of silver. And the traders took him to Egypt.
This sounds pretty brutal, but it happens in business all the time. partners will sell out partners. Bosses will throw employees under the bus… Relationships are broken because someone wanted to make a quick buck. People will move for money… they often will leave a marriage to go make money or marry a guy or woman with more money.
It looked bad for Joseph, but God was using it to get him into position to do great things.

4. Joseph lost his identity

Joseph was sold as a slave in a foreign country. Back home everyone was goiong to think he was dead, so no one was coming to look for him.
Genesis 37:31–35 NLT
31 Then the brothers killed a young goat and dipped Joseph’s robe in its blood. 32 They sent the beautiful robe to their father with this message: “Look at what we found. Doesn’t this robe belong to your son?” 33 Their father recognized it immediately. “Yes,” he said, “it is my son’s robe. A wild animal must have eaten him. Joseph has clearly been torn to pieces!” 34 Then Jacob tore his clothes and dressed himself in burlap. He mourned deeply for his son for a long time. 35 His family all tried to comfort him, but he refused to be comforted. “I will go to my grave mourning for my son,” he would say, and then he would weep.
Notice they did not say… our brother, but your son.
You may have experienced this. Maybe you were married and then went through a divorce and you lost your identity as a husband or wife… lost your friends. Maybe you were let go from a job where you got a lot of your identity… You are no longer the CEO. Maybe your identity was as a parent … now they are grown and you kind of lost that identity.
I am sorry you are going through trials that cause you to lose your identity, but that doesn’t have to be the end of the story. God will give you a brand new identity… and it will be a better one… more fulfilling one…

5. Joseph was forced to take a job he did not want

Maybe you have experienced this one. You could not find the job you really wanted, so you have had to settle.
Joseph goes from being the pampered child in his father’s home to being a slave in a foreign land. His is a slave… an immigrant.
Genesis 37:36 NLT
36 Meanwhile, the Midianite traders arrived in Egypt, where they sold Joseph to Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, the king of Egypt. Potiphar was captain of the palace guard.
Maybe you are in a job that you didn’t want… didn’t sign up for… one that you don’t want to do and you feel like you are in slave labor. You know somewhat of how Joseph felt. He is now doing work that he never wanted to do in a country he didn’t want to go to.
But, whatever Joseph did… he did the best he could with what God gave him… He served with a whole heart and he did the best he could, trying to honor God with good work and good character.
Joseph changed the meaning of work. He worked for God and not for a human master. He saw God as his boss and he worked at whatever he did as if he were working for God and with excellence. He stood out at work and received promotion after promotion, but the bosses wife began noticing him which led to his 6th trial.

6. Joseph was punished for doing the right thing

Some of you have had this happen. Sometimes we mess up and get ourselves into a problem, but there are other times where we have problems for doing the right thing. And that’s what happened to Joseph.
He was falsely accused of rape and thrown into prison. Look at this…
Genesis 39:6–19 NLT
6 So Potiphar gave Joseph complete administrative responsibility over everything he owned. With Joseph there, he didn’t worry about a thing—except what kind of food to eat! Joseph was a very handsome and well-built young man, 7 and Potiphar’s wife soon began to look at him lustfully. “Come and sleep with me,” she demanded. 8 But Joseph refused. “Look,” he told her, “my master trusts me with everything in his entire household. 9 No one here has more authority than I do. He has held back nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How could I do such a wicked thing? It would be a great sin against God.” 10 She kept putting pressure on Joseph day after day, but he refused to sleep with her, and he kept out of her way as much as possible. 11 One day, however, no one else was around when he went in to do his work. 12 She came and grabbed him by his cloak, demanding, “Come on, sleep with me!” Joseph tore himself away, but he left his cloak in her hand as he ran from the house. 13 When she saw that she was holding his cloak and he had fled, 14 she called out to her servants. Soon all the men came running. “Look!” she said. “My husband has brought this Hebrew slave here to make fools of us! He came into my room to rape me, but I screamed. 15 When he heard me scream, he ran outside and got away, but he left his cloak behind with me.” 16 She kept the cloak with her until her husband came home. 17 Then she told him her story. “That Hebrew slave you’ve brought into our house tried to come in and fool around with me,” she said. 18 “But when I screamed, he ran outside, leaving his cloak with me!” 19 Potiphar was furious when he heard his wife’s story about how Joseph had treated her.
Joseph had done nothing wring and yet, he was in prison. Joseph’s trials were like the tide when it comes in… it just keeps on coming. None of these trials are Joseph’s fault.

7. Joseph was forgotten by people he helped

What do you do when your troubles are caused by other people? None of the horrible things that have happened to Joseph were because of anything he did… they were not his fault. So Joseph is thrown into prison and he just keeps on serving the Lord. Pretty soon, he is the assistant to the warden and basically running the jail.
While he’s in jail, he helps a couple of guys who had been put in there by Pharaoh … a wine steward and a baker. To make a long story short, he interprets a couple of dreams.
Story of Pharaoh’s Wine Steward and Baker Gen 40:1-23
Genesis 40:14–15 NLT
14 And please remember me and do me a favor when things go well for you. Mention me to Pharaoh, so he might let me out of this place. 15 For I was kidnapped from my homeland, the land of the Hebrews, and now I’m here in prison, but I did nothing to deserve it.”
Genesis 40:23 NLT
23 Pharaoh’s chief cup-bearer, however, forgot all about Joseph, never giving him another thought.
He totally forgets about Joseph, so Joseph is left to rot in prison. Even after he helped the guy, the guy just forgets him.
Some of you have helped someone in the past, but when you needed help, they were no where to be found. I am sure that you have identified with one of these. Most of these by themself would be enough to make most people give up, but Joseph experienced all of these but he remained faithful. God had told him that he would do great things and he was holding on to that.

What kept Joseph going?

1. Joseph depended on God’s presence no matter where he was

When he was in the pit
Acts 7:9 NLT
9 “These patriarchs were jealous of their brother Joseph, and they sold him to be a slave in Egypt. But God was with him
Notice, God was with him… God probably will not spare you of your troubles, but he will be with you every step of the way. God brought him safely through everything that he encountered.
I don’t know what you are going through, but God is with you and he will bring you through everything you are facing.
Here it is again…
Genesis 39:1–2 NLT
1 When Joseph was taken to Egypt by the Ishmaelite traders, he was purchased by Potiphar, an Egyptian officer. Potiphar was captain of the guard for Pharaoh, the king of Egypt. 2 The Lord was with Joseph, so he succeeded in everything he did as he served in the home of his Egyptian master.
Working for Potiphar
The Lord was with Joseph when he went to work for Potiphar…
The Lord was with him and he became successful. Potiphar realizes there is something special about Joseph…
Genesis 39:3–5 NLT
3 Potiphar noticed this and realized that the Lord was with Joseph, giving him success in everything he did. 4 This pleased Potiphar, so he soon made Joseph his personal attendant. He put him in charge of his entire household and everything he owned. 5 From the day Joseph was put in charge of his master’s household and property, the Lord began to bless Potiphar’s household for Joseph’s sake. All his household affairs ran smoothly, and his crops and livestock flourished.
Notice, a non believer recognizes that God is the one doing this through Joseph. Potiphar decides he wants him on his team… everything he touches turns to gold.
But then, Potiphar’s wife takes notice of Joseph and tries to seduce him over and over again. He resists but she accuses him of trying to rape her and he is thrown in prison for doing the right thing.
When he was in Prison
God was with him in the pit, in his work and now in prison. In this world we will have tribulation. Joseph was put in prison for something he did not commit.
Genesis 39:20–22 NLT
20 So he took Joseph and threw him into the prison where the king’s prisoners were held, and there he remained. 21 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. 22 Before long, the warden put Joseph in charge of all the other prisoners and over everything that happened in the prison.
God blessed him again and pretty soon, he was running the prison.
Genesis 39:23 NLT
23 The warden had no more worries, because Joseph took care of everything. The Lord was with him and caused everything he did to succeed.
God made Jospeh successful in everything that he did.
Here is the point. God was with Jospeh every step of the way. No matter what you are going through, God is with you too. He will never leave you nor will he forsake you. When you were afraid, God was there. When you were laid off… God was with you. When you were exhausted, God was with you… you may not have recognized it, but he was with you.
Difficult times can’t keep God from being with you.

2. Joseph depended on God’s plan and promises no matter how long it took

God had promised him that he would rule over his brothers… that he would do great things… so he depended on those promises for years.
As the story goes, Joseph is promoted to the number 2 spot under Pharaoh. He is not the 2nd most powerful man in the world. He saves the country from famine because of his wise management of their resources. Then his brothers have to come down from Israel to buy grain from him. They don’t even recognize him. This is a great story.
Finally Joseph lets them in on who he is, and they naturally think… we are going to die… right here… right now… But Joseph tells them this…
Genesis 50:19–20 NLT
19 But Joseph replied, “Don’t be afraid of me. Am I God, that I can punish you? 20 You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people.
They did evil towards Joseph, but God used it for not only Joseph’s good, but for the good of 2 nations.

3. Joseph depended on God’s Help in every challenge

Over and over again… Joseph depended on the Lord… even in prison.
One day the Pharoah has a bad dream and no one can interpret it and then the guy who was in prison remembers him and tells Pharoah.
Genesis 41:15–16 NLT
15 Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I had a dream last night, and no one here can tell me what it means. But I have heard that when you hear about a dream you can interpret it.” 16 “It is beyond my power to do this,” Joseph replied. “But God can tell you what it means and set you at ease.”
He explains it and Pharoah promotes him to #2.
Genesis 41:39–44 NLT
39 Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Since God has revealed the meaning of the dreams to you, clearly no one else is as intelligent or wise as you are. 40 You will be in charge of my court, and all my people will take orders from you. Only I, sitting on my throne, will have a rank higher than yours.” 41 Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I hereby put you in charge of the entire land of Egypt.” 42 Then Pharaoh removed his signet ring from his hand and placed it on Joseph’s finger. He dressed him in fine linen clothing and hung a gold chain around his neck. 43 Then he had Joseph ride in the chariot reserved for his second-in-command. And wherever Joseph went, the command was shouted, “Kneel down!” So Pharaoh put Joseph in charge of all Egypt. 44 And Pharaoh said to him, “I am Pharaoh, but no one will lift a hand or foot in the entire land of Egypt without your approval.”
I want people to say that about you at work… that you are obviously filled with the spirit and wisdom of God. That’s what the king told Joseph.
I don’t know what you are going through right now, but I want to ask you three questions.
Will you depend on God’s presence?
Will You depend on God’s presence?
Will you depend on God’s Plan and promise?
Prayer -
help us see trials as stepping stones to where you want us to be.
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