Institute in Basic Life Principles

Giving the World a "New" Approach to Life!

How did God use the suffering Joseph experienced?

How Suffering Prepared a Leader
the story of Joseph

How would you respond if your family despised you so much that they arranged for you to be sold to a slave trader? How would you feel if your boss, whom you had faithfully served with impeccable integrity, was quick to believe a lie about you and subsequently have you thrown into jail? How would you react if a comrade broke a promise and as a result, you spent several years in confinement?

Joseph experienced each of these circumstances. You can read the full account of his sufferings in Genesis 37–50.

God Had a Purpose for Allowing Joseph to Suffer

By Joseph’s own testimony, the sufferings of Joseph—physical, mental, and emotional agonies—had been allowed by God so that Joseph could fulfill God’s plan: to save many lives. “But as for you [Joseph’s brothers who had sold him into slavery many years previously], 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” (Genesis 50:20).

Joseph Rejected Bitterness and Chose to Forgive

As Joseph responded to suffering with faith, meekness, and humility, God molded and shaped a leader. And that leader would not only end up saving his betrayers’ lives, but he would fully forgive them and provide abundantly for their needs. Such is the potential when a man chooses to reject the empty revenge of bitterness and instead to embrace the benefits of suffering.

Why Did God Allow Bad Things to Happen to Joseph?

If Joseph asked you why God allowed him to be sold into slavery by his own brothers; to be torn from his family and home; to be falsely accused by the wife of Potiphar, to whom he had been loyal and devoted; and to be unjustly imprisoned and ignored, how might you answer?

Here are a few possible answers. There are many more.

  • To enable him to overcome a prideful attitude and learn humility (See Proverbs 15:33.)
  • To teach him how to serve (See Genesis 39:4, 22-23, 40:4; Matthew 20:26-28; and Mark 9:33-35.)
  • To train him to be faithful (See Genesis 39:2-6 and Matthew 25:21.)
  • To test him in moral purity (See Genesis 39:7-20 and Matthew 5:11-12.)
  • To prepare him to comfort others (See Genesis 50:21 and II Corinthians 1:3-5.)
  • To prepare him to lead his brothers to repentance (See Proverbs 16:6.)
  • To teach him patience (See Genesis 40:1-14, 23; and I Peter 5:10.)
  • To enable him to see God accomplish His purposes and fulfill His promises (See Genesis 37:5-11, 41:32, 42:1-5, 45:4-7, and 50:20.)
  • To teach him how jealousy can cause suffering (See Genesis 37:3-4 and 17-36.)
  • To save many lives (See Genesis 50:20.)
  • To let him experience the blessing of God’s favor (See Genesis 39:2-6 and 21-23.)
  • To place him in a position to tell Pharaoh of God’s power (See Genesis 41:15-16, 25, 28, 32-33, and 38-44.)

We Can Choose to Trust God, Even as Joseph Did

We are not to regard suffering as a strange occurrence, but rather as a sign of God’s work in our lives. (See I Peter 4:12-19 and Romans 9:14-24.) “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the Lord, and depart from evil” (Proverbs 3:5-7).

For Further Study



wow,this really helps to understand,why sometimes life is so hard..
thank you


Beautiful..... as Christians we have to be willing to suffer if we want to see God fulfill His purpose in our life.


this truly blessed me. Good to know all suffering has purpose.


Awesome! Inspiring!

Gregory Goodwill

The Spirit of the Lord gave me the word "Intentional". I thought of one person in the bible how God's intentions work in their life and that person was Joseph. He is an excellent example for the body of Christ.Thank you for your information on this tpoic.

Gregory Goodwill

The Spirit of the Lord gave me the word " Intentional "this week.One person that came to mind is Joseph. He is the perfect example for the body of Christ

Sean Henry

Thanks for allowing me to learn! God bless you in Jesus name!

Roberta Robert

Wow, awesome. I prayed and asked God why I was suffering one night and when I slept, I had a dream and I heard a loud voice telling me, you are Joseph. That dream lead me to the Bible to read the story of Joseph with the understanding that there is God's purpose for our suffering.


Joseph’s story teaches us to wait on God, even in the midst of sufferings. We should continue to ask God for his grace to endure and overcome during such times.

Joy Jumbo

Thanks alot for this. I'm learning to trust God totally..... I pray He strengthens all going through suffering.

Sandra Joyner

The story of Joseph is a great testimony of how we as Christians can overcome the giants in our lives. Trust in the Lord and lean not to your understanding and we will come out victorious.

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