2 Peter 1:3 …as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue… (NKJV)
In this day and age of prescription drugs, syndromes and professional therapy, I sometimes wonder how anybody who lived before the 20th century was ever happy. Without support groups, Oprah and pharmaceutical companies, it’s a wonder anyone even got out of bed.
The Apostle Peter declares that the divine power of Jesus Christ has given us all we need to live a godly life. The Apostle Paul declares that Scripture is sufficient to instruct us in all ways about living a fulfilled life of good works and Godliness (2Timothy 3:16-17).
There is no doubt that Godly people of past ages were faced with the same emotions we face today – depression, pessimism, suffering, deprivation, worry, anxiety, doubt and fear. If they were without “professional” help and a pill-for-every-problem, how did they handle hard times in life? Maybe they didn’t have it as bad as we do, so they didn’t need medication and therapy. Or maybe, they had an answer that we have lost sight of.
Over the next five devotionals, let’s look at some characters in the Bible that faced terrible problems and circumstances. Let’s see if there is something common in the way they handled disappointment, tragedy, health problems, persecution and hard times. Did they worry? Were they depressed? Did they stay that way? Was it beyond their control? How did they deal with it?
Joseph – a life of injustice and hardship
Joseph was the favorite of the many sons of Jacob. His brothers hated him because their father favored him. Their jealousy began a string of events that would easily merit Joseph the right to be depressed, angry and bitter about life (Gen 37-40).
- Joseph was hated and taunted by his brothers
- He was thrown in a pit and was going to be murdered by them
- He was sold as a slave into a foreign land
- He was unjustly accused of improper conduct and thrown into prison
- He was left in prison even after helping someone else get out who promptly forgot about him
Don’t brush over that list too quickly. Five bullets points don’t sound like much, but they represent years and years of non-stop hardship, mistreatment, persecution and injustice inflicted on Joseph. Except for some boyish immaturity, he seemed to be totally innocent of wrongdoing.
Joseph had no modern mental health care professionals, doctors, therapists or medications available. Given today’s thinking, he should have been lost in despair and hopeless – suffering from numerous syndromes and conditions. The kinds of problems he faced would require years of counseling and therapy according to our mindset today. If anyone had earned the right to some self-pity, it was Joseph.
But Joseph lived then, not now. So how did he handle it? In all things he turned to God and took every circumstance as a way to glorify God (Gen 37-40).
- As a slave he worked hard, was honest and served his master as if working for the Lord
- He was morally pure and refused to dishonor his owner by giving in to sexual advances from his master’s wife
- In prison, he was the best prisoner possible, being cooperative, obedient and helpful to others and his captors
- He forgave his brothers for their treachery and understood that whatever was happening was part of God’s plan
- He was not a complainer, nor did he descend into self pity
Genesis 45:3-5 Then Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph; does my father still live?” But his brothers could not answer him, for they were dismayed in his presence. And Joseph said to his brothers, “Please come near to me.” So they came near. Then he said: “I am Joseph your brother, whom you sold into Egypt. 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.
Joseph accepted his circumstances as God’s will and rather than giving into his emotions, relied on God to sustain him. We are all too quick to turn to man-made solutions for handling life’s hardships. We have come to trust human “wisdom”, diversion and medication more than the Word of God. The Bible contains ALL things that pertain to life and Godliness, and is able to equip us for ALL good works and living life.
Philippians 4:6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;
For the hardships of life and their accompanying temptations of anxiety, worry, depression, doubt and fear, God has given us the solutions and power needed to victoriously deal with them. We have plenty of Godly examples in Scripture to show us the way. Beginning with Joseph today, and over the next four days with others, take notice of a common thread of trust and dependence on God’s sovereign care in all circumstances.
God knows what He is doing. Whatever hardship you find yourself in today, God can use it to transform you more into the image of Christ. Do not seek primarily to escape it, numb it or end it. Seek the wisdom of God to find out His purpose in it. When we see every moment of our life as a moment ordained and used by God, hardships become a source of growth, not dismay.
Hardships don’t need to be medicated, they need to be consecrated.
Great Compassionate God, we turn to all sorts of sources other than You to explain and deal with life’s problems. We ask you to remind us that You are the answer to all of life’s difficulties. Grant us the courage to turn to You first, instead of as a last resort or emergency measure. In Jesus name, Amen.
Contemplation: Do you worry, doubt or fear? Are you depressed or discontent? Has life got you “down”? What does God say about it? What is it about God that is not powerful enough, sufficient enough or caring enough to sustain you and comfort you? Why would God command us not to worry, fear, or doubt if He knew most of mankind throughout history would not have the professional help and medication we believe are so necessary today?
Application: God has given us everything we need to live a happy, joyful, contented and fulfilled life REGARDLESS of what hardships come our way. When we are less than joyful and contented, it is always based in an incorrect or lacking spiritual viewpoint.
- What is the most obvious Bible truth you have learned today?
- What change in your life needs to be made concerning this truth?
- What specific thing will you do today to begin that change?