Lessons of a Low-Wattage Bulb

Genesis 39:5 “From the time he put him in charge of his household and of all that he owned, the Lord blessed the household of the Egyptian because of Joseph” (NIV).

Observation: Joseph had been sold into slavery by jealous brothers, beginning a journey that brought him to Egypt and into the service of Potiphar, a high official of Pharaoh. Potiphar soon appointed Joseph head of his household, resulting in Potiphar’s prosperity. Later, when Joseph was imprisoned, the same pattern was repeated. His gifting, his character, and the favor of the Lord caused the warden to put Joseph in charge of “all that was done there” (Gen. 39:22).

Application: Joseph, the fair-haired offspring of Jacob. Joseph, the son favored by God and by his father. Joseph, the guy for whom everything came easily. When I look at someone like Joseph do I feel just a tinge of jealousy? Perhaps a stirring of envy has arisen as I have flipped through a magazine of high-end homes, fast cars, or bodies beautiful. Perhaps the story of accumulated wealth showcased on a late show has caused descent into self-pity like a shadow marking the passage of time that whispers, “What have I done? What have I accomplished?” 

“They get all the breaks,” I grouse. “Things always seem to go their way.” Beloved, that attitude is as silly and as unjustified as pouting over Edison’s success with the light bulb. Yes, fame and fortune followed, but I also recall the thousands of failed experiments required to achieve that one low-wattage glow. Similarly, Joseph did eventually prosper through each of life’s tough circumstances. But remember, his success came as a slave of Egypt, as a prisoner of Pharaoh’s gulag. The things Joseph touched did indeed prosper, but the circumstances could hardly have been less promising. 

Clearly, Joseph carried a powerful gifting from the Lord, but is that not also true for me?  “We have different gifts, according to the grace given us” (Rom 12:6). “There are different gifts,…different kinds of service, but the same Lord” (1 Cor. 12:4–5). But Joseph was more than his gifting. He was also a man of personal integrity, character that had been developed through crushing adversity—hated by his brothers, sold into slavery, unjustly imprisoned, apparently forgotten. 

God, too, has gifted me. He has implanted something of Himself into my DNA.  Character development, though, is another matter. That is left to my choices. How I respond to adversity, how I deal with affliction, how I react both inwardly and outwardly when life throws its curveballs, these are the reservoir from which character is watered and nourished. Gifting without character yields chaos. Every time.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, I see today more of what You have for me in adversity as well as success. I understand more about why my willingness to submit to Your discipline is so vital. Thank You, Lord, that You provide what it will take to grow me into a worthy part of Your eternal bride.

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