What should we do when life goes from bad to worse?

Below is a story from the life of Joseph. Joseph had grown up as the favorite son, but then his brothers sold him as a slave. While in slavery he rose to prominence within the ruling class of Egypt, but then he was falsely accused and thrown into jail. Below is an account of what happened next. Notice the very last sentence of the story. What would you do if you were in Joseph’s place?

Gen. 40:1 ¶ Then it came about after these things, the cupbearer and the baker for the king of Egypt offended their lord, the king of Egypt.

Gen. 40:2 Pharaoh was furious with his two officials, the chief cupbearer and the chief baker.

Gen. 40:3 So he put them in confinement in the house of the captain of the bodyguard, in the jail, the same place where Joseph was imprisoned.

Gen. 40:4 The captain of the bodyguard put Joseph in charge of them, and he took care of them; and they were in confinement for some time.

Gen. 40:5 Then the cupbearer and the baker for the king of Egypt, who were confined in jail, both had a dream the same night, each man with his own dream and each dream with its own interpretation.

Gen. 40:6 When Joseph came to them in the morning and observed them, behold, they were dejected.

Gen. 40:7 He asked Pharaoh’s officials who were with him in confinement in his master’s house, “Why are your faces so sad today?”

Gen. 40:8 Then they said to him, “We have had a dream and there is no one to interpret it.” Then Joseph said to them, “Do not interpretations belong to God? Tell it to me, please.”

Gen. 40:9 ¶ So the chief cupbearer told his dream to Joseph, and said to him, “In my dream, behold, there was a vine in front of me;

Gen. 40:10 and on the vine were three branches. And as it was budding, its blossoms came out, and its clusters produced ripe grapes.

Gen. 40:11 “Now Pharaoh’s cup was in my hand; so I took the grapes and squeezed them into Pharaoh’s cup, and I put the cup into Pharaoh’s hand.”

Gen. 40:12 Then Joseph said to him, “This is the interpretation of it: the three branches are three days;

Gen. 40:13 within three more days Pharaoh will lift up your head and restore you to your office; and you will put Pharaoh’s cup into his hand according to your former custom when you were his cupbearer.

Gen. 40:14 “Only keep me in mind when it goes well with you, and please do me a kindness by mentioning me to Pharaoh and get me out of this house.

Gen. 40:15 “For I was in fact kidnapped from the land of the Hebrews, and even here I have done nothing that they should have put me into the dungeon.”

Gen. 40:16 ¶ When the chief baker saw that he had interpreted favorably, he said to Joseph, “I also saw in my dream, and behold, there were three baskets of white bread on my head;

Gen. 40:17 and in the top basket there were some of all sorts of baked food for Pharaoh, and the birds were eating them out of the basket on my head.”

Gen. 40:18 Then Joseph answered and said, “This is its interpretation: the three baskets are three days;

Gen. 40:19 within three more days Pharaoh will lift up your head from you and will hang you on a tree, and the birds will eat your flesh off you.”

Gen. 40:20 ¶ Thus it came about on the third day, which was Pharaoh’s birthday, that he made a feast for all his servants; and he lifted up the head of the chief cupbearer and the head of the chief baker among his servants.

Gen. 40:21 He restored the chief cupbearer to his office, and he put the cup into Pharaoh’s hand;

Gen. 40:22 but he hanged the chief baker, just as Joseph had interpreted to them.

Gen. 40:23 Yet the chief cupbearer did not remember Joseph, but forgot him.

Think about the disappointment that Joseph must have felt. He had already gone through the agony of being torn from his family and sold as a slave. Then he had gone through the agony of being falsely accused and imprisoned. When he helped the cupbearer, he had hope that the cupbearer would help him, but the help never came. What would you do if you were Joseph? Would you blame God? Would you question God’s goodness? Would you wonder if God cares or if He is even there? What should we do?

Consider the following verse.

Rom. 8:28 ¶ And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.

As we go through bad times, we usually can’t see what good might come out of it, but the verse above makes it clear that we can be certain that God will work things together for good. Consider also the next verses.

1Pet. 5:6 ¶ Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time,

1Pet. 5:7 casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.

The Bible states very explicitly that God cares for us and that we are to cast our care upon Him. Notice also the concept of God exalting us at the proper time. That is what happened to Joseph. A couple years after helping the cupbearer, Joseph interpreted a dream for Pharaoh and was elevated to second in command of Egypt.

Finally, notice the command in 1 Peter 5:6.

1Pet. 5:6 ¶ Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God,

The word “mighty” reminds us that God is in control. The word “humble” is a command. When life goes from bad to worse, we need to humble ourselves before God, remembering that He is in control, He cares for us, and He will work all things together for good.


Further Reading

 How humble should we be?

Why does God allow us to hit bottom?


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“Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.”