How should we respond when other people cause us trouble? When family rejects us? When a good friend double-crosses us? When a colleague at work lies about us? A prime example of suffering from the troubles brought on by other people is Joseph of the Old Testament, whose story is told in Genesis 37–50.

Joseph was the second-youngest of twelve brothers. There was a lot of sibling rivalry in the family, and the older brothers began to get especially jealous of Joseph because of their father’s favoritism toward him. When the problem came to a head, the brothers threw Joseph into a pit and left him there to die. But some traveling merchants came by, and the brothers said, “Let’s just sell him instead of killing him.” So Joseph’s older brothers sold him to these foreign merchants, who took him as a slave to Egypt.

So Joseph found himself in a foreign country. He did not know anyone, he could not speak the language at first, and he was enslaved against his will. On top of that, his master’s wife decided to seduce him one day. After he refused, she falsely accused him of rape, and he was thrown into prison. He was lonely and hurting, and he had every right to ask, “Why me?”

But notice Joseph’s attitude as he talked with his brothers many years after these terrible things happened. Reflecting on those events, he said, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives” (Gen. 50:20). In other words, “You meant this for bad, but God turned it around and used it for good in my life, in your lives, and in the lives of many other people.”

Rick Warren, God’s Answers to Life’s Difficult Questions (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2008).

We have just released a new Bible Study based on Rick Warren’s book, God’s Answer to Life’s Difficult Questions.

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Lessons include:

How to Cope with Stress

How Can I Rebound from Failure?

How Can I Defeat Depression?

How Can I Live Above Average?

How Can I Have Peace of Mind?

How Can I Handle Discouragement?

How Can I Overcome My Problems?

How Can I Be Confident In a Crisis?

How Can I Ever Change?

How Did I Get Myself in To This Mess?

How Can I Overcome Loneliness?

Why Is This Happening to Me?