CIRCUIT OVERSEER TALK, Sunday 2nd November 2014
DO NOT LET YOUR CIRCUMSTANCES CONTROL YOUR LIFE
How do we feel when we are victims of injustice, and when we see all the injustice around us?
And every one of us is a victim of injustice. We are born imperfect and dying - we all suffer because of what Satan and our first parents did. We suffer from our own imperfections - we become sick and die - and we suffer because we are no longer living in Paradise, but in a world full of injustice and violence.
How should we deal with it? We are going to see how, with Jehovah's guidance, we can turn this negative situation into a positive, so that it doesn't overwhelm us.
We then read Proverbs 24:10: "If you become discouraged in the day of distress, Your strength will be meagre..
It's so easy to be discouraged but whatever the situation, we can take control. How?
We then studied the example of Joseph - his behaviour in the face of injustice upon injustice.
We started with Genesis 37:3,4: "Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his other sons because he was the son of his old age, and he had a special robe made for him. When his brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers, they began to hate him, and they could not speak peaceably to him."
Joseph was only 17. It was not his fault he was his father's favourite, but it greatly enraged his brothers.
Did he wear this special robe often, too often? Probably. Would it have been more tactful not to? Yes, but he was only a teenager.
We then looked at verses 5 to 11 (in Genesis 37): " Later Joseph had a dream and told it to his brothers, and they found further reason to hate him. He said to them: “Please listen to this dream that I had. There we were binding sheaves in the middle of the field when my sheaf got up and stood erect and your sheaves encircled and bowed down to my sheaf.” His brothers said to him: “Are you really going to make yourself king over us and dominate us?” So they found another reason to hate him, because of his dreams and what he said. After that he had still another dream, and he related it to his brothers: “I have had another dream. This time the sun and the moon and 11 stars were bowing down to me.” Then he related it to his father as well as his brothers, and his father rebuked him and said to him: “What is the meaning of this dream of yours? Am I as well as your mother and your brothers really going to come and bow down to the earth to you?” And his brothers grew jealous of him, but his father kept the saying in mind."
This dream told Joseph that there would come a time when not only his brothers, but his parents too, would bow down to him. Being seventeen, naive, exuberant, he rushed to tell them. It goes down, as the Speaker says, "like a lead balloon" with his brothers. But his father is more thoughtful about it.
We then looked at verse 18 in the same chapter: "Now they caught sight of him from a distance, and before he reached them, they began plotting against him to put him to death."
That robe again! Is that why they saw him from a distance?
We then read verses 19 and 20: " So they said to one another: “Look! Here comes that dreamer. Come, now, let us kill him and pitch him into one of the waterpits, and we will say that a vicious wild animal devoured him. Then let us see what will become of his dreams.”
This shows the hatred his brothers had for him.
The Speaker then read verses 26-28: "At this Judah said to his brothers: “What profit would there be if we killed our brother and covered over his blood? Come, now, let us sell him to the Ish′ma·el·ites, and do not let our hand be upon him. After all, he is our brother, our flesh.” So they listened to their brother. And when the Mid′i·an·ite merchants were passing by, they lifted Joseph up out of the waterpit and sold him to the Ish′ma·el·ites for 20 pieces of silver. These men took Joseph into Egypt."
His brothers sold him for the price of a slave. How must Joseph have felt? He was only 17, none of this was his fault, he had done nothing wrong, apart from possibly being a bit tactless. He must have begged and pleaded with his brothers not to do this, but they sold him anyway.
He was then sold into Egypt, into the House of Potiphar. Then, heaping injustice on injustice, when he was in his twenties, Joseph was imprisoned on false charges because he turned down the advances of Potiphar's wife.
Genesis 39:9: "There is no one greater in this house than I am, and he has not withheld from me anything at all except you, because you are his wife. So how could I commit this great badness and actually sin against God?”
Psalm 105:17,18: "He sent ahead of them a man Who was sold to be a slave, Joseph. With fetters they bound his feet; His neck was put in irons"
He was confined in very cruel conditions, yet Joseph was innocent.
The Speaker then read Genesis 41:46: "Joseph was 30 years old when he stood before Phar′aoh king of Egypt. Then Joseph went out from before Phar′aoh and traveled throughout all the land of Egypt."
He was sold into slavery at 17 - and released from prison at the age of 30. So he spent 13 years in captivity - a lifetime at that age - and all because of jealousy. He had strong reasons to be resentful about his stolen life.
So how did Joseph make something so positive out of it?
We can learn three lessons:
1. Let go of resentment.
2. Make the best of whatever situation we are in now.
3. Wait on Jehovah.
That is what Joseph did. He had an extraordinary life. He went from slave to prisoner to Prime Minister - becoming the second most important man in the land! He became the Food Administrator for the whole of Egypt
When he was in his late thirties, his father, Jacob, sent his sons to Egypt to obtain food, as Canaan was undergoing the severe famine prophesied in Pharaoh's dream. The sons came in to the Food Administrator, and did obeisance to him. So his dream came true.
They have no idea that he is their brother - there is an interpreter between them - they don't even know he can understand what they are saying. But he knows who they are.
Genesis 42:21-25: "And they said to one another: “We are surely being punished on account of our brother, because we saw his distress when he begged us to show compassion, but we did not listen. That is why this distress has come upon us.” Then Reu′ben answered them: “Did I not say to you, ‘Do not sin against the child,’ but you would not listen? Now his blood is certainly being asked back.” But they did not know that Joseph understood, for there was an interpreter between them. So he turned away from them and began to weep. When he returned and spoke to them again, he took Sim′e·on from them and bound him before their eyes. Joseph then gave the command to fill up their bags with grain and to return each man’s money to his own sack and to give them provisions for the journey. This was done for them."
Here Joseph is given a perfect opportunity to take revenge - yet he does the opposite. He brings his brothers and their families to Egypt and places them in the Land of Goshen, the best of the land. However, later, when their father dies, the brothers worry that Joseph might have been holding back for the sake of his father, and that he will now take his revenge.
Genesis 50:18-21: "Then his brothers also came and fell down before him and said: “Here we are as slaves to you!” Joseph said to them: “Do not be afraid. Am I in the place of God? Although you meant to harm me, God intended it to turn out well and to preserve many people alive, as he is doing today. So now do not be afraid. I will keep supplying you and your little children with food.” Thus he comforted them and spoke reassuringly to them."
He did not hold one ounce of resentment - he had truly let it go.
Here is the example for us. Whatever the wrong, can we let it go? Don't be eaten up by the injustice, as resentment can do even more harm than the injustice itself.
We can control our reactions. I notice that I have underlined the following Scripture in my notes:
Romans 12:17-19: " Return evil for evil to no one. Take into consideration what is fine from the viewpoint of all men. If possible, as far as it depends on you, be peaceable with all men. Do not avenge yourselves, beloved, but yield place to the wrath; for it is written: “‘Vengeance is mine; I will repay,’ says Jehovah.”"
The second lesson is that we can and should make the best of the situation we are in now. Give attention to what we can do, and do it. Genesis 39:4 says: "Joseph kept finding favour in his eyes, and he became his personal attendant. So he appointed him over his house, and he put him in charge of all that was his."
That is what Joseph did, and Jehovah blessed him for it. When he was in prison, did he give up? Did he "put his feet up and play his xbox games"? No.
Genesis 39:21-23 tells us: " But Jehovah continued with Joseph and kept showing loyal love to him and granting him favour in the eyes of the chief officer of the prison. So the chief officer of the prison put Joseph in charge of all the prisoners in the prison, and everything that they were doing there, he was the one having it done. The chief officer of the prison was looking after absolutely nothing that was in Joseph’s care, for Jehovah was with Joseph and Jehovah made whatever he did successful."
Joseph refused to be controlled by circumstances - he turned to Jehovah for help, and how wonderfully Jehovah helped him.
This is such a good lesson for us. We can still serve Jah no matter what our circumstances.
Philippians 4:11-13 shows us how well Paul knew that: "Not that I am saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be self-sufficient regardless of my circumstances. I know how to be low on provisions and how to have an abundance. In everything and in all circumstances I have learned the secret of both how to be full and how to hunger, both how to have an abundance and how to do without. For all things I have the strength through the one who gives me power."
But we can't do this in our own strength, we must always rely on Jehovah, our Creator.
So, to summarise, we can let go of resentment, make the best of our circumstances, and rely on Jehovah.
The Speaker closed with three Bible verses:
Genesis 45:5: "But now do not be upset and do not reproach one another because you sold me here; because God has sent me ahead of you for the preservation of life."
Micah 7:7: "But as for me, I will keep on the lookout for Jehovah. I will show a waiting attitude for the God of my salvation. My God will hear me."
Psalm 34:8: "Taste and see that Jehovah is good; Happy is the man who takes refuge in him."