Seizing the Opportunities God Provides

We need to “wait upon the Lord,” but that doesn’t always mean being passive.

512px-Joseph_made_ruler_in_egyptNot long ago I re-read the story of Joseph in Genesis 37-50. This gifted, Godly man’s experiences of being sold into slavery by his brothers, rising to prominence, being unjustly imprisoned, gaining even more respect, and ultimately using his good fortune to bless his entire family (and preserve the nation of Israel) is a classic reminder that even when things don’t go the way we;d like them to, God is in control and “works all things together for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

But that doesn’t necessarily mean that we should sit back and do nothing while we try to discern God’s plan for our lives. Jesus told us to be “as shrewd as snakes and harmless as doves.” Joseph demonstrated this wisdom as well. For example, when he interpreted the baker’s dream in prison, he didn’t just leave it at that. He also asked the baker to do something for him in return–namely, to put in a good word for him with Pharaoh. Eventually, that paid off and got Joseph an audience with Pharaoh himself.

And when Joseph correctly interpreted Pharaoh’s dream to mean that seven years of plenty followed by seven years of famine were on the way, Joseph again did not stop there. He took the opportunity to suggest what Pharaoh should do about it–namely, to immediately start building grain reserves to last through the lean years.  Then he went yet another step further, and suggested that “Pharaoh select a discerning and wise man, and set him over the land of Egypt” to carry this plan out.  Pharaoh accepted the advice, and naturally chose Joseph–the source of the idea in the first place–in that role.

We often look to Joseph’s example for comfort when our careers or lives don’t go the way we’d planned. But we can also draw wisdom from how Joseph leveraged the opportunities and relationships that God placed him into in order to better his circumstances.