Abraham Lincoln spent a great deal of time reading the
Bible and reflecting upon the human condition. I believe
his analysis about people and happiness was correct, when
he said, "Most people are about as happy as they make up
their minds to be."
Happiness is a lifestyle, a state of being. It can't be
purchased or earned, and it's not a place to which you can
travel. It's a perspective; we choose whether to be happy
or sad in every aspect of life.
Joseph was sold by his brothers into slavery, and eventually
purchased by Potiphar.
He was put in charge of his master's house, and eventually
suffered sexual harassment from Potiphar's wife.
When Joseph wouldn't consent to her advancements, he was
framed and subsequently thrown into prison, where the chief
jailer put him in charge of the prisoners.
In prison, Joseph saw Pharaoh's butler and baker and asked,
"Why are your faces so sad today" (Gen. 40:7)?
Besides the concern Joseph had for his fellow man, the
question reveals his positive attitude.
If anyone had a reason to be sad, it was Joseph. But rather
than being sad, after being sold into slavery, falsely accused
of sexual harassment, and unjustly imprisoned, he was upbeat
How did Joseph. . . ?
How did Joseph maintain his dignity in prison?
How did he have a state of mind to care for the emotional
wellness of others, while he was oppressed?
How did he have a happy perspective of life, to recognize
the butler and baker's sadness?
Joseph Trusted in God
Joseph made the best of every situation, trusting in God
and satisfied to do His will, even if he spent his life
As Christians, we do the same thing today:
- ". . . exult in hope of the glory of God. And
not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations.
. ." (Rom. 5:2-3).
- "Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter
various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith
produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect
result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking
in nothing" (Jas. 1:2-4).
- "Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand
of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting
all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you"
(1 Pet. 5:6-7).
Joseph Realized The Greater Good
Joseph overcame sadness by realizing the greater good, as
God worked in his life.
After his father died, Joseph's brothers were afraid that
he would hate them and repay them for enslaving him. So
they begged for mercy.
Joseph said, "Do not be afraid, for am I in the place
of God? But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God
meant it for good, in order to bring it about that as it
is this day, to save many people alive" (Gen. 50:19-20).
Joseph realized that God used the bad things in his life
to bring about a greater good, the salvation of a nation.
We Must Realize The Greater Good in Our Lives
As Christians, God uses our lives to bring about good.
Paul says, "And we know that God causes all things
to work together for good to those who love God . .
." (Rom. 8:28).
In the same context, he says we'll be conquers over all
the "bad" things that happen to us. "But in all these things
we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us.
For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels,
nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come,
nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created
thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God,
which is in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Rom. 8:37-39).
Joseph Graciously Forgave Others
Joseph graciously forgave others because of his perspective
of life, his faith, and his dependence on God. He didn't
harbor ill will toward his brothers, or others.
Therefore Joseph dealt with his anger, which allowed him
to move forward with life, rather than being sad and depressed.
As Christians, we forgive others as often as they need
forgiving (Matt. 18:22), as God in Christ has forgiven us
(Eph. 4:32). As a result we press forward with life, rather
than holding ourselves down with sadness and depression
To Be Continued
We continue our study on happiness in Part
II of this series.