35. ALWAYS LOOK FOR THE GOOD IN ADVERSITY.
Genesis 39:21-23 - "But the LORD was with Joseph and showed him mercy, and He gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison. And the keeper of the prison committed to Joseph's hand all the prisoners who were in the prison; whatever they did there, it was his doing. The keeper of the prison did not look into anything that was under Joseph's authority, because the LORD was with him; and whatever he did, the LORD made it prosper."
Joseph didn't deserve to be a slave or a prisoner, but that was his reality nevertheless. He dealt with his circumstances exceedingly well and God blessed him. Like Joseph we must stay strong, keep the faith, and never quit doing what is right. Even when we are burdened with problems, there is always good to be thankful for and to motivate us to keep on walking in the light with gratitude.
36. PROTECT YOUR CONSCIENCE FROM LANGUISHING GUILT.
Genesis 42:21,22 - "Then they said to one another, 'We are truly guilty concerning our brother, for we saw the anguish of his soul when he pleaded with us, and we would not hear; therefore this distress has come upon us.' And Reuben answered them, saying, 'Did I not speak to you, saying, "Do not sin against the boy"; and you would not listen? Therefore behold, his blood is now required of us.'"
Some sins are life changing in that they damage our conscience and burden us with long-term guilt. Such was the case with Joseph's brothers. I have to wonder: Did they recall their ill treatment of Joseph every time something unfortunate happened to them? Why would they still be thinking of this after twenty years? Why, after so long, was it still in the front of their minds? The answer probably lies in the heavy burden they had indirectly placed upon their father--a burden which they saw regularly. The grief of their father coupled with their deception of him caused them to suffer from languishing guilt. They felt the sting of that guilt afresh when they are faced with a trial, but, fascinatingly, even being treated graciously reminds them of it (cf. 42:25-28). Even nearly four decades after they had sold Joseph, they are still carrying guilt and fear over the matter (cf. 50:15). Learn from their mistake: protect your conscience at all costs by living righteously and, when you do commit iniquity, don't compound it by sinning further to cover your initial transgression (cf. II Sam. 11).
37. GOD CAN USE THE WICKED CHOICES OF MEN FOR MUCH GOOD.
Genesis 45:5 - "But now, do not therefore be grieved or angry with yourselves because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life."
This is one of the most amazing lessons of Genesis to me. In fact, it is one of the most incredible lessons we can see from the Scriptures, period. How God, in His great wisdom and providence, can see the future and know how it will unfold based upon the free will decisions of human beings, and then use those decisions (good or bad) to accomplish His will is beyond amazing to me (cf. 50:20)! Joseph's understanding of this principle no doubt helped him not bear a grudge against his brothers, and it can help us do the same.
38. GOD ALMIGHTY IS THE JUDGE, NOT MORTAL MEN.
Genesis 50:19 - "Joseph said to them, 'Do not be afraid, for am I in the place of God?'"
In one sense, Joseph, as Prime Minister over all of Egypt, was about as close as a human could come to being in the place of deity. He had tremendous authority and vast resources at his disposal. Had he desired to harm his brothers, he certainly could have done so. The power Joseph wielded did not corrupt him, however, for he understood this important lesson: God is the judge, not man. He knew God would administer appropriate judgment upon their heads (cf. Rom. 12:17-21).