Have you ever met someone who is just plain negative about everything? It's hard to be around someone like that for long. What about someone who's positive and encouraging. They are like a breath of fresh air. Two men in Genesis stand out to me as great examples of these types of attitudes. One is Jacob, the swindler, the liar, yet a man who sought after the things of God with all his heart. The other is his son, Joseph, the favored, spoiled son who proudly teased his brothers when he was young. If you read the account of Jacob's life, although he wrestled with God, although he valued God, he didn't believe God would come through for him, and consequently, he was a very negative person. Every time something bad happened to him he dove into a deep depression and wailed and moaned and wanted to die. Have you known people like that? I have. After believing that his son Joseph was dead and now being asked by his remaining sons to give up his youngest son, Benjamin, so they could take him to Egypt to buy grain during the famine, Jacob says in Genesis 42: 36 "Everything is going against me!"
Contrast that with Joseph. Sold into slavery by his own brothers, then thrown into prison for at least 10 years for a crime he did not commmit, betrayed by Pharaoh's butler, did Joseph complain? Did Joseph whine? Did he blame God? There is no indication that he did so at all. In fact, all we see if Joseph giving praise and glory to God over and over again. Even deep within the prison, even when he was brought before Pharaoh to interpret his dream, Joseph gave all the glory to God. I don't know about you, but I might have a hard time keeping my faith in God all that time.
So what was the difference between the two men? I'll tell you in one word. Belief. Joseph believed in the dreams God had given him as a child. He believed God had a purpose and a reason for what was happening to him. This is evidenced by what Joseph tells his brothers later after he reveals himself to them in Genesis 50:19-20 "You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives." How was Joseph rewarded for his faith? He became prince of all of Egypt. Jacob, on the other hand, had no faith at all that God had a plan, that God loved him and would work everything out.
So, here's the thing. When life doesn't go your way, when bad things happen, you have two choices. Believe God or whine and complain. And if you are unsure that God has got your back, remember one of my favorite scriptures found in Romans 8:28.
"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."