Next week in class, I am looking forward to teaching my first graders the story of Joseph (found in Genesis 39 and 40). This is one of my favorite stories. It is a page-turning narrative that reads better than any novel on the bestseller list. It is a true story that is packed with drama, character development, plot twists, cliff hangers, and tremendous intrigue. Every year when I teach it, I notice that my class is mesmerized and hungry for more Bible stories. It also is a story that transcends generations. For me, even as an adult, each time I read or hear about it, I am reminded of important biblical lessons that are life-changing.

Recently, I have been thinking of those times when we are waiting on God. Those seasons can be challenging and lonely. For me personally, I feel as though I am not being seen by God and others, and the feeling is very isolating.

There are times when things are so tough, and we pray for relief, and we do not immediately see it. This can lead to despair. Joseph had every reason to be forlorn! He was sold into slavery, was given a job, rose to power with that job, was falsely accused of raping a woman, and then was thrown into jail. His circumstances were 100% unfair and unjustified.

We know the end of the story–Joseph became second in command to Pharaoh, the leader of ancient Egypt. I think it is important to understand this story for a minute by pretending that we do not know the ending. For a moment, let’s just ruminate on Joseph’s prison sentence and his other trials. If I think about being in prison, being abandoned by family, sold into slavery, and placed in all of those situations unfairly, how sad, lonely, and isolated Joseph must have felt. I wonder if he thought that God was not hearing his prayers. I wish I could understand and know more about that season of his life. I am sure during these times of difficulty, he was incandescent with feelings of injustice and anger.

Due to Joseph’s rise to leadership in various settings, I believe he learned how to make decisions, how to properly address those above and below his position, and how to absorb chaos. Those are all signs of a well-seasoned leader. Joseph needed to learn these qualities so that he could ultimately save Egypt as well as the Hebrew race.

We cannot have beautiful spring flowers without rain, or new life without the pains of childbirth. Joseph’s unjust circumstances were used as a tool to prepare him for greater things.

Are you going through a similar situation? Do you feel that you are asking God to relieve you of your situation, and you are not getting an immediate answer to your desperate prayers? Do not lose heart: God can be using your situation as a tool to prepare you for bigger and better things.

I remember a season in my own life when I was working at capacity and I saw no end in sight. I was in a constant state of being exhausted mentally and physically, and feeling overwhelmed. I would pray to God daily to relieve me of my situation. Now, reflecting back to that season of my life, I realize that I grew closer to God, and my prayer life became crucial to the start of my day. God used this time to help build my prayer and faith muscles and helped me to realize that I needed to be fully dependent on Him. He also helped me build more stamina–I can see that I am now able to handle more. I am also more grateful for those slow days without a long to-do list. These were all crucial areas that I needed to grow in.

What also is so special about the story of Joseph is that there are those beautiful moments of grace sprinkled all throughout the narrative: Joseph’s life was spared (Genesis 37:21); Potiphar completely trusted Joseph to run his household (Genesis 39:4); the warden in the prison put Joseph in charge (Genesis 39:22); and lastly and most important, the end of Genesis 39:23 says, “The Lord was with Joseph and gave him success in whatever he did.” The Bible makes it clear that God never left him. God carried him throughout his difficult journey. God will do the same for you. He will not leave you. Even though you may not physically feel or see God, He is with you. He will give you the strength to carry on no matter what season you are in.

Back to that difficult season in my life–God did the same for me.He provided me with glimpses of His presence throughout that season. I remember a dear friend making me tea with an entire lemon when I had a relentless cough. There were moments of intense, much-needed laughter spent with a good friend and my sister. And there were of course those moments of encouragement when people truly saw me, complimented me, and made me feel not so lonely. God never left me.

My challenge to you, in those moments when you are placed in a circumstance that seems unfair, is to allow God to use the difficult time as a tool to grow and shape you into the best person that you can be. Allow those lessons to wash over you and penetrate, mold, and shape you into the person that He wants you to be. One day you will look back on that challenging season of your life and you may gain some understanding of all that happened and be grateful.

I leave you with this verse from Genesis 45:5 when Joseph addresses his brothers: “But don’t be upset, and don’t be angry with yourselves for selling me to this place. It was God who sent me here ahead of you to preserve your lives.” God can and will use any situation for good; all we need to do is trust Him.

Photo by Alan Tang on Unsplash

Fran Turuta currently teaches at Smithtown Christian School which is located on Long Island, NY. She has worked as a camp counselor, a tutor, and a classroom teacher. She has over 20 years of experience and has taught 4th, 3rd, 5th, and 1st grades. She is a wife and a mother and enjoys standup paddle boarding, running, baking, and reading.