READ: Genesis 36-37
THINK: Have situations in life ever knocked you down until you felt that you couldn't get any lower and things were totally beyond your control? Perhaps the farthest thing from your mind was the fact that God could still work His purposes through the chaos. Overwhelmed by a sense of hopelessness, you might have wondered if God cared about your situation at all. If your troubles are the result of rejection or injustice, you might struggle with confusion, self-pity or resentment toward those who hurt you. But if these feelings persist, resentment can turn to retaliation, and retaliation can lead to regret-and no follower of Jesus should settle for a life of regret. After all, God's purposes aren't limited by circumstances. No setback can stand in the way of His plans if you keep trusting Him. In fact, situations that appear to be dead ends may be the very things that take you on a winding road to your destiny.
RESPOND: In what ways had Esau prospered, and in what ways had he failed, and why? (See 36:6-7 note.) How does his example serve as a warning to us? In what way was Joseph's father, Jacob, partially at fault for the tension between Joseph and his brothers? (See 37:3 note.) What can parents and families learn from this? What advantages did Joseph seem to have going for him? What obstacles was he facing? How well did he handle these things? Though Joseph was sensitive to God even as a young man, in what way did he still demonstrate immaturity in how he approached his brothers? (See 37:6 note.) How do you think you would have felt as one of Joseph's brothers, and what might you have said to the others? Have you ever felt betrayed or unwanted? How did God help you deal with these feelings? How can knowing and trusting in God's promises help us deal with difficulties?
PRAY: Take a few moments to consider how God could use your difficult circumstances to accomplish His purposes. Pray for faith, patience and perspective as you wait for the Lord to accomplish His purposes in your life.
ACT: Are you finding fulfilment in any aspect of your life more than in your relationship with God? Could it be that you're investing more time, effort and passion into other things? If so, make the necessary changes to start making spiritual progress. Don't let your feelings or circumstances dictate how you respond to God or how you pursue His purposes. When facing struggles, take advantage of the opportunity to stretch your faith.
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