Today’s post is an excerpt from my new devotional, What Your Mind Needs for Anxious Moments: A 60-day Guide to Take Control of Your Thoughts, which releases next Tuesday.
Family dysfunction, false accusations, wrongful imprisonment—Joseph’s life is filled with one anxiety-provoking situation after another. Joseph is his father’s favored son, so his brothers sell him to traders out of jealousy. Joseph ends up in the house of Potiphar, an official of Pharaoh. Just when things look bet- ter, Potiphar’s wife tries to seduce Joseph. He refuses her advances and she frames him for rape. Stuck in prison, it seems Joseph’s luck has run out.
Then Pharaoh has a dream no one can explain, and his cupbearer remembers Joseph interpreted a dream for him while they were in prison together. Pharaoh summons Joseph, who tells him the dream depicts seven years of plenty followed by seven years of famine. Pharaoh is so impressed with Joseph that he puts him in charge of Egypt.
Years later, the brothers who sold Joseph arrive to buy food, but they don’t recognize their long-lost sibling until he reveals himself to them. Reunited with his family, Joseph says, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good” (Genesis 50:20).
When we experience hard circumstances, anxiety tries to lie to us. It tells us, “Things are bad, and they’re only going to get worse.” Maybe anxiety whispers, “You can’t handle this.” Or it accuses us, “If your faith was stronger, then you wouldn’t be going through this right now.” Joseph certainly had reason to believe these lies. He could have listened to anxiety and become hopeless. Instead, he chose to see God’s hand even in the most difficult places.
Pause and ask yourself, “What does anxiety try to tell me?” We each have signature lies directed at the most tender parts of who we are. In my life, anxiety tries to tell me, “You’re not good enough.” I worry I’ve messed everything up or let God down. But there’s a flaw in this kind of thinking; it assumes that if I follow God, then all will go well. Jesus tells us, “Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows” (John 16:33). In this world, we will experience heartbreak, failure, disappointment, and loss. This doesn’t mean we’ve done something wrong; it simply means we are not in heaven yet.
Jesus goes on to say, “But take heart, because I have overcome the world” (v. 33). Although Joseph lived long before Jesus, we still see this truth in his life. Joseph took heart by continuing to trust God was at work even when all the outward evidence seemed to indicate otherwise. He saw beyond what was possible from a human perspective and believed God would get him through whatever came.
When anxiety tries to lie to us, we can do the same by turning to the truth.
Anxiety says, “Things are bad and going to get worse.” Truth says, “God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” (Romans 8:28)
Anxiety says, “You can’t handle this.” Truth says, “I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:13)
Anxiety says, “If your faith was stronger, then you wouldn’t be going through this right now.” Truth says, “When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you.” (Isaiah 43:2)
Because Joseph persevered, God used him to save the lives of thousands of people, including his family. What seemed like pointless pain served a greater purpose. Whatever you’re going through today, whatever anxiety is trying to say, God is still working in your life. Even when you can’t yet see his hand, He’s accomplishing His good plan to give you hope and a future.
MORE FOR YOU
Reflect: What’s a hard circumstance in your life that God used for good?
Download: My brand new devotional, What Your Mind Needs for Anxious Moments: A 60-day Guide to Take Control of Your Thoughts, releases on Tuesday! (Thank you for your kind support in spreading the word and buying copies for yourself or your loved ones!) Today’s post is an excerpt from the devo. Want to receive the first three devotionals free? Enter your email here! If you’re among the 1 in 5 Americans who have anxiety, it’s my hope that this will be an encouragement and kind resource for you.