By David de Bruyn
One of the most common things people will say to explain their actions, is some version of the following: I didn't choose this. The person in a bad marriage says, I didn't sign up for this. I didn't ask him to cheat on me. The unhappy parent says, I didn't want children, my spouse did and now I am stuck with them. The unhappy employee says, This is not what I dreamed I would be doing at my age and the angry teenager says, I didn't choose my parents, I'm stuck with them. I didn't choose my school, or my church. My parents forced that on me, or variations on the same theme. If someone makes a decision for me that I don't like, then I don't have to respond humbly or sweetly. I only have to be godly about the decisions I make for myself. But any decision made by another, which influences my life, is fair game for a bad attitude, complaining, murmuring, or outright rebellion.
When we look at the life of Joseph, we find a man whose life circumstances were mostly decided for him by others. Other people made decisions for Joseph - decisions that brought suffering into his life. How did Joseph respond to these decisions other people made for him? How did he react in response to being betrayed, harmed and manipulated? Did Joseph adopt the victim mentality? Did Joseph become defensive and angry? No, Joseph's attitude and way of life mirrored what the New Testament called being filled with the Spirit. Joseph was a man who chose to live by faith and to walk with God.
What would your response have been to being forced against your will, with no way to change it, into a place you didn't choose, work you didn't choose, relationships you didn't choose? One response would be the response of burning bitterness. Every word, every thought, every deed would be tinged with resentment. It would be a response of seething anger, plotting revenge, spending every moment digging in your heels to show you are a stolen slave that didn't consent to being there.
Another response would be the response of depressed despair. Everything you do would proclaim that you'd lost hope, that nothing in your life was going your way. You'd plod from task to task, a deep sigh following every command, sluggishness would communicate that with your dreams crushed, you had no zeal to do anything that you had not planned.
Do you think an angry or despairing man will be greatly used by God? Do you think an angry or despairing man is a Spirit controlled man? What should we conclude about Joseph's responses to his situation? And the LORD was with Joseph, we read, and he was a prosperous man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian. And his master saw that the LORD was with him, and that the LORD made all that he did to prosper in his hand. And Joseph found grace in his sight, and he served him: and he made him overseer over his house, and all that he had he put into his hand.
No one ruins your life; no one ruins your day, because in the end whatever has been chosen for you, you still have the final choice - about that choice. Whatever is being chosen for you by others - your family, your place, your work or your health, is ultimately God's will for you right now. What you can choose is to ruin your experience of God's favour by an ungodly attitude. You can choose anger, resentment, bitterness, self-assertion, dishonesty, laziness or rebellion. If you're a born again Christian, however, you can respond to the choices others have made for you with a Spirit filled life. You can respond by submitting to Christ, pleasing Him and loving Him above all else. Then, whatever your situation, it will be said of you: The Lord was with him. The Lord was with her.