Until the time came to fulfill his dreams, the LORD tested Joseph’s character. Psalm 105:17 (NLT)
What’s your dream? What is the passion that God has placed in your heart? Some describe it like a holy disturbance that churns deep within you, a dissatisfaction with anything less, or a pursuit that leaves you restless until you achieve it. Joseph had such a dream. God put it in his heart as a young boy. The only problem was that his character wasn’t developed enough to fulfill the dream. The dream God gave him was bigger than his character at the time could handle. When God gives us a dream, He begins to work on our character to match the dream. How does He do that? In Joseph’s life, character development came through a series of tests and hardships. Rejected by his own brothers, he was mistreated, nearly killed, and sold as a slave. His father thought he was dead. Enslaved in Egypt, Joseph was falsely accused, imprisoned, and forgotten after helping another inmate. Only in God’s timing, when Joseph’s character was fully developed, did He fulfill his dreams.
Have you ever considered that maybe one of the reasons your dreams are not fulfilled is that God is still at work on your character? If this is true, don’t be discouraged. Take heart, God is not finished with you. He is still at work, shaping you into the image of His Son! It seems strange that God would use problems and hardships to achieve His purpose, but He does. James describes it like this in James 1:
When all kinds of trials and temptations crowd into your lives my brothers, don’t resent them as intruders, but welcome them as friends! Realize that they come to test your faith and to produce in you the quality of endurance. But let the process go on until that endurance is fully developed, and you will find you have become men of mature character with the right sort of independence. James 1:2-4 (Phillips NT)
Joseph must have wondered how God could possibly fulfill his dreams with all the hardships and trials he faced. When it seemed impossible, God lifted Joseph from prison to the palace and made him the second most powerful man in all of Egypt, effectively saving the lives of his own brothers and sustaining the nation of Egypt and Israel. Joseph understood this when he reassured his brothers saying,
You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people. Genesis 50:20 (NLT)
God had developed Joseph’s character to match his dreams! He will do that for you too! How? James gives us insight into responding to the ways in which God develops our character. He says,
And if, in the process, any of you does not know how to meet any particular problem he has only to ask God – who gives generously to all men without making them feel foolish or guilty – and he may be quite sure that the necessary wisdom will be given him. But he must ask in sincere faith without secret doubts as to whether he really wants God’s help or not. The man who trusts God, but with inward reservations, is like a wave of the sea, carried forward by the wind one moment and driven back the next. That sort of man cannot hope to receive anything from God, and the life of a man of divided loyalty will reveal instability at every turn. James 1:5-8 (Phillips NT)
I don’t know what you are facing right now, but I know God is at work. Commit the trials and hardships you’re dealing with to Him. Ask Him for wisdom in responding to them. Realize that they come to test your faith and produce in you the character you need to match the dream God has for you!