“There is no indication that God explained to Joseph what He was doing through those many years of heartache or how the pieces would eventually fit together. He had no ways of knowing that he would eventually enjoy a triumphal reunion with his family. He was expected, as you and I are, to live out his life one day at a time in something less than complete understanding. What pleased God was Joseph’s faithfulness when nothing made sense.” ― James C. Dobson.

Randy Pausch, the professor whose “last lecture” went viral just before he died, wrote that “experience is what you get when you didn’t get what you wanted.” He added that there is good news: in every situation, you’ll always walk away with something, even if that something is more experience.

The wisdom in what Randy said becomes more obvious when things don’t go our way, when things don’t turn out the way we planned or hoped. But regardless of how things turn out, God doesn’t let those experiences go to waste. He’s been in the business of turning troubles into triumphs for a really, really long time. God is more interested in our character than our comfort. God uses setbacks, troubles and tragedies to shape us and mold is into His character.

 If you read the life of Joseph in the book of Genesis you will discover that the pit and the prison were only the first in a long line of inconvenient irritations and setbacks he was to encounter on the road to where God was leading him. When we step back and think about the entire story of Joseph, we can see that God has stepped into this family to do a redemptive work. God’s purpose was to exalt or lift him up to be the next to the Pharaoh in Egypt. Joseph never let his situation cloud his perception of his relationship with God. Whether in good days or bad days, Joseph always knew he had a relationship with God. God was always there for him and with him.   

If God has allowed you to experience disappointments or setbacks in your life, it is generally because He has a greater purpose. Life’s setbacks are often engineered by God to achieve a greater purpose that we could ever imagine. If you’re in the midst of building experience through hard times, remember that God is with you. 

While we may not be called, as Joseph was, to save a nation from starvation, we are no less significant to God. No matter what is happening in our lives today, God is in control. He’s growing us little by little, building us up so that we can accomplish more for His kingdom. Someday we may just look back and see how the experiences we gained during setbacks were part of the preparation for something much bigger.  

Discussion Questions:

  1. Are there any good things happening in your life right now? What might God be up to in the midst of those for your good and His glory?
  2. Are there any hard things happening in your life right now? What might God but up to in the midst of those for your good and His glory?