You Can Prosper In Hostile Environments
Most human beings prefer to operate, live, minister, work and serve in pleasant places. Very few of us would intentionally choose to operate where we face challenges or oppositions. It is just natural to want things to go smoothly. Resistance can be stressful. The distress that may result during difficult times is not easy to overcome or ignore. Hostility affects mood, morale and produces physical discomforts like headaches and digestive issues.
There are some common human responses to unpleasant ongoing situations. Some people retaliate or fight back. They choose to fight fire with fire. Their method of coping is to ‘get even’ or dish out, in the same measure, the degree of injustice they are experiencing. They are determined to stand hard and strong against the opposition. They don’t want to be perceived as ‘losing’ to the aggressor. They don’t want anyone to see them as being a pushover or being soft.
Other folks deal with hostility by fleeing or avoiding the situation as much as possible. They don’t want to ‘rock the boat’ or cause any trouble. They are timid and try to hide. They don’t stand up for themselves or others and try to become invisible. They don’t push back or require respect or equality.
The third group, for the purposes of this discussion, is the one who relies on wisdom and godly consistency. These people know who they are (children of the King) and where they stand. They have adopted and personalized the first part of Isaiah 54:17 No weapon that is formed against me shall prosper…” Those who have received Jesus as Savior and Lord of their lives have been received into the family of the Father God. As family members we are certain of the assurances of the Kingdom of God, as stated in the Word of God. In order to stand firm on His Word, we must know what He has said and is saying. The Word of God is a Living Presence (John 1:1-4, 9-14) and He is still speaking clearly to His people.
There are several biblical witnesses who endured exceptionally dire situations. These people were victorious because they believed God and remained consistent in following His wisdom. Let’s look at one of them.
One of the most well known biblical accounts is that of Joseph as told in Genesis chapters 37, 39 and 40. Joseph is only 17 years old when his story opens in Genesis 37. There is severe hostility toward him from his brothers. Joseph was just a teenager and lacked maturity. He didn’t know exactly why he was different from his brothers. In his zeal, he shared dreams from God with his family. The dreams and the telling of them made Joseph seem haughty, especially in the current setting. For some of Joseph’s brothers, the negativity toward him escalated to hatred; so much so that they had no misgivings about seeing him dead.
Every person in a family is unique. If God has chosen you for a special purpose like He did for Joseph, your journey won’t be easy. The journey won’t be easy but in the end it is definitely worth the trip. What is notable about Joseph is that he remained consistent in his dedication to God. He did not deviate from the plan or waver in his loyalty. Interestingly, Joseph didn’t really know the whole plan of God for his life. Neither do we. None of us knows the whole plan of God for our lives. He wants us to trust Him without reservation. The Lord gives us a glimpse of what is to come but He never reveals the entire picture at once.
God showed Joseph through dreams what was to come. Through all of the betrayal, the lies, the loneliness, the injustices, the disconnection from his family Joseph remained firm in his commitment to God. Joseph didn’t seek revenge against those who had wronged him. Neither did he try to run and hide from the hostility. Instead, he allowed the circumstances he endured to mature and groom him. It is sometimes hard to accept that oftentimes our obstacles are designed by God. Our Father knows what strengths we need to develop in order to fulfill His purposes for our lives. He also is the only One who knows how to best develop those strengths in us. God knew what needed to happen for Joseph to shed his immaturity and gain patience and wisdom.
If Joseph had submitted to actions of anger or revenge his life story would have a very different ending. If he had tried to avoid the harshness of his life the realities of God would never have come to fruition. Joseph’s obedience and diligence affected many people. What you do does not just impact you. All of the land of Egypt and the surrounding lands benefited greatly because Joseph followed God’s plan.
Who is depending on you to complete the purposes of God for your life? When Joseph was 17 years old he had no clue that the map of his life would literally save people from starvation. One of the goals of supreme obedience is to glorify God. Even if you don’t understand the process, agree with the wisdom of God. The Father loves you and He has a great plan for your life. The enemy has many tactics to try to get you to quit but he cannot stop you. Just keep moving forward. Just keep doing things God’s way. Genesis 50:20 was Joseph’s declaration to his brothers concerning their treatment of him.
Genesis 50:20 KJV But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.
Read Genesis 45 and see the generosity and benevolence that Joseph demonstrated with a pure heart toward his brothers. He did not harbor any animosity toward them or any of the other people who wronged him along the way. Joseph stayed focused on believing God and using his skills to glorify the Lord. Even though Joseph was blessed by God in intellect and ability, if his attitude had been rude and unsavory he would not have advanced in leadership as God intended. So much can be gleaned from the story of Joseph. His journey is recorded so we can learn from it. Whatever hostility opposes you, meet it with grace and wisdom. You can prosper in hostile environments.
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