“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.” – Genesis 50:20

Sometime in our life, we will experience obstacles in our life. Those obstacles are often found in the form of setbacks. Setbacks can be a minor obstacle or a significant roadblock standing between where we are now and where we want to be.  God often uses a setback to move us forward. There was one person in the Bible that experienced more than his fair share of setbacks only to find out that those setbacks moved him forward in ways he could not have imagined.  

Joseph had to see his brothers selling him into slavery as a setback. That setback made him a slave to Potiphar, Pharaoh’s Captain of the Guard, a man who was a high-ranking official in Egypt. But Potiphar grew to like the young slave. In fact, the more supervision and responsibility he delegated to Joseph the more the Lord blessed his servant and so Potiphar also was blessed. Joseph ended up as Potiphar’s administrative assistant with full charge of every facet of his enterprises. But Potiphar’s wife propositioned him. Joseph said no repeatedly. So the angry, spurned wife accused Joseph of attempted rape, and into prison he goes. Another setback. He is soon running the prison and interprets a dream for the King’s cupbearer and baker, asking that they remember him when they are released. They forget him until Pharaoh has a dream and Joseph interprets the dream for him. Pharaoh was so impressed with Joseph that he made him his right-hand man in charge over all of Egypt. 

Those are some pretty significant setbacks. Yet, In his worst moments, when his life seemed pointed in the opposite direction of God’s plan, Joseph learned to trust in the Lord. Joseph had come to understand that God’s good purpose had been accomplished through the very setbacks he experienced. Not only did Joseph save his family and the people of Israel, but he also rescued the whole of Egypt from starvation. On top of that, Joseph was able to say with unshakable certainty these incredible words of forgiveness to his brothers: “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.” (Genesis 50:20)

If you are feeling discouraged over a detour, roadblock or setback, remember Joseph. God may be orchestrating something unexpectedly good, despite the circumstances you are experiencing at the moment.

In the Christian life, it often takes a few setbacks and detours before we begin to catch on and learn to trust God for a positive outcome. Let Joseph’s story inspire you as an example of what God can do when you surrender your will to His in times of frustration and disappointment. 

Discussion Questions:

  1. How would going from chosen son to slave affect your faith in God and dreams?
  2. How does the story of Joseph change how you look at setbacks?