1. GOD’S PROVIDENCE AT WORK
a. List at least seven acts of providence which God had to arrange before Joseph could be sent to Egypt? Psalm 105:17; Genesis 37:13–28.
“The way of God’s choosing may seem dark, yet it is the surest way to the light. In the midst of apparent disaster and defeat, God’s providence is working out His purposes.”—The Signs of the Times, July 26, 1883.
b. Out of all of Jacob’s sons, why did God select Joseph as the one to be sent to Egypt for a great work? Genesis 37:2; 39:6; Acts 7:9.
“Joseph listened to his father’s instructions and feared the Lord. He was more obedient to his father’s righteous teachings than any of his brethren. He treasured his instructions, and, with integrity of heart, loved to obey God. He was grieved at the wrong conduct of some of his brethren, and meekly entreated them to pursue a righteous course, and leave off their wicked acts. This only embittered them against him. His hatred of sin was such that he could not endure to see his brethren sinning against God. He laid the matter before his father, hoping that his authority might reform them.”—The Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 1, p. 126.
2. THE LONELY JOURNEY
a. In his journey to Egypt as a slave, how might Joseph have felt about God’s leading in his life? Genesis 37:28; Psalms 88:3–5; 73:13, 14.
“As the caravan journeyed southward toward the borders of Canaan, the boy could discern in the distance the hills among which lay his father’s tents. Bitterly he wept at thought of that loving father in his loneliness and affliction. . . . With a trembling heart he looked forward to the future.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 213.
b. When are we tempted to question God’s leading the most? Job 2:7–10; Exodus 16:2, 3; 17:1–3.
“Many who sincerely consecrate their lives to God’s service are surprised and disappointed to find themselves, as never before, confronted by obstacles and beset by trials and perplexities. They pray for Christlikeness of character, for a fitness for the Lord’s work, and they are placed in circumstances that seem to call forth all the evil of their nature. Faults are revealed of which they did not even suspect the existence. Like Israel of old they question, ‘If God is leading us, why do all these things come upon us?’ ”—The Ministry of Healing, p. 470.
c. Why did God allow lonely times to come upon Joseph? 1 Peter 4:12, 13; Hebrews 12:5, 6; Romans 8:28.
“What a change in situation—from the tenderly cherished son to the despised and helpless slave! . . .
“But, in the providence of God, even this experience was to be a blessing to him. He had learned in a few hours that which years might not otherwise have taught him. His father, strong and tender as his love had been, had done him wrong by his partiality and indulgence. This unwise preference had angered his brothers and provoked them to the cruel deed that had separated him from his home. Its effects were manifest also in his own character. Faults had been encouraged that were now to be corrected. He was becoming self-sufficient and exacting. Accustomed to the tenderness of his father’s care, he felt that he was unprepared to cope with the difficulties before him, in the bitter, uncared-for life of a stranger and a slave.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 213.
3. FROM CHILDHOOD TO MANHOOD
a. What promise can all God-fearing parents hold onto as they rear their children? Proverbs 22:6.
“[When sold into slavery, Joseph’s] thoughts turned to his father’s God. In his childhood he had been taught to love and fear Him. Often in his father’s tent he had listened to the story of the vision that Jacob saw as he fled from his home an exile and a fugitive. He had been told of the Lord’s promises to Jacob, and how they had been fulfilled—how, in the hour of need, the angels of God had come to instruct, comfort, and protect him. And he had learned of the love of God in providing for men a Redeemer. Now all these precious lessons came vividly before him.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, pp. 213, 214.
b. Who only could Joseph call upon in his lonely exile? How would this decision change his life? Psalms 27:10; 34:18, 19; Romans 10:13.
“[Joseph’s] soul thrilled with the high resolve to prove himself true to God—under all circumstances to act as became a subject of the King of heaven. He would serve the Lord with undivided heart; he would meet the trials of his lot with fortitude and perform every duty with fidelity. One day’s experience had been the turning point in Joseph’s life. Its terrible calamity had transformed him from a petted child to a man, thoughtful, courageous, and self-possessed.”—Ibid., p. 214.
c. When we are tempted to feel forsaken and that all is lost, what should we remember? Psalms 37:25; 33:18, 22; 73:25, 26; Hebrews 12:1–3.
“In every affliction God has a purpose to work out for our good. Every blow that destroys an idol, every providence that weakens our hold upon earth and fastens our affections more firmly upon God, is a blessing. The pruning may be painful for a time, but afterward it ‘yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness’ (Hebrews 12:11). . . . The very trial that taxes our faith the most severely and makes it seem as though God had forsaken us, is to lead us more clearly to Him. . . . Let no Christian feel that he is forsaken when the hour of trial comes upon him.”—The Review and Herald, April 10, 1894.
4. FAITH THAT OVERCOMES
a. Despite his youth, what victory did Joseph gain over the circumstances he faced? Genesis 39:1, 2; Psalm 40:1–4.
“God in His great mercy will give to all His believing people efficiency and power for His work and service, even as He gave power to Joseph, Samuel, Daniel, Timothy, and scores of others who availed themselves of His promises. They believed Him and relied upon Him, and this was their righteousness. Men and women have to move by faith. They have to press their way through the cloud of objections which Satan brings up to hinder their progress. When God sees that they will trust Him as their helper and their efficiency, they may pass safely through the great darkness of men’s unconsecration.”—The Upward Look, p. 206.
b. What does the Bible say about those who allow circumstances to override their faith? Numbers 13:32, 33; Hebrews 3:17–19; James 1:8.
“The living Christ demands self-denial and strong faith. Circumstances are not to rule the life. The child of God, the heir of heaven, cannot drift hither and thither.”—The Review and Herald, November 9, 1897.
c. What promises are given if we overcome our trials, and how can we overcome? Numbers 14:24; 1 John 5:4; Revelation 3:21.
“Now is the time to show who are the true Calebs, who will not deny that the walls are high, the giants mighty, but who believe that this very fact will make the victory more glorious. There are great difficulties and trials before us. It will require strong courage and persevering effort to go forward. But all now depends on our faith in the Captain who has led us safely thus far. Shall we let unbelief come in now? Shall we weakly yield to distrust and fear? Shall we compromise with the world, and turn away from the heavenly Canaan?”—Ibid., November 29, 1881.
“While the cowards and murmurers perished in the wilderness, faithful Caleb had a home in the promised Canaan. ‘Them that honor Me I will honor,’ saith the Lord.”—Testimonies, vol. 5, p. 304.
5. ALL IN GOD’S PLAN
a. Upon Joseph’s arrival in Egypt, why was it important that he meet Potiphar? Genesis 39:1, 2. How did God use this meeting to further His plan for Joseph? Genesis 37:36; 39:20; 41:9–14.
“Joseph regarded his being sold into Egypt as the greatest calamity that could have befallen him; but he saw the necessity of trusting in God as he had never done when protected by his father’s love. Joseph brought God with him into Egypt, and the fact was made apparent by his cheerful demeanor amid his sorrow. As the ark of God brought rest and prosperity to Israel, so did this God-loving, God-fearing youth bring a blessing to Egypt.”—The SDA Bible Commentary [E. G. White Comments], vol. 1, p. 1096.
b. Why is it that God’s plans do not always reflect our personal desires? Proverbs 16:9; Isaiah 55:8, 9; Romans 8:26.
“To every sincere prayer an answer will come. It may not come just as you desire, or at the time you look for it; but it will come in the way and at the time that will best meet your need. The prayers you offer in loneliness, in weariness, in trial, God answers, not always according to your expectations, but always for your good.”—Gospel Workers, p. 258.
“We all desire an immediate answer to our prayers and are tempted to become discouraged if our prayer is not immediately answered. Now, my experience has taught me that this is a great mistake. The delay is for our special benefit. We have a chance to see whether our faith is true and sincere or changeable like the waves of the sea.”—Counsels on Health, pp. 380, 381.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. Explain how God’s providence works.
2. How can trials cause us to question our faith?
3. Why is our salvation more important to God than our temporal condition?
4. What are we to do when we meet trying circumstances?
5. How should we expect God to answer our prayers?