At some point, life sucker punches all of us. The blow might come in the form of divorce papers, a suspicious x-ray, a pink slip from an employer, a late night phone call, or a variety of other unwanted possibilities. In an instant, we are knocked flat on our back and watching the ceiling spin.
Joseph certainly didn’t it coming. On a day that began like any other, Joseph’s father Jacob sent him on an errand to check on his older brothers as they pastured their father’s flock (Gen 37:12-36). As Joseph approached Dothan, alone and vulnerable, and wearing the multi-colored robe his father had made for him, Joseph’s brothers saw him from a distance and plotted to kill him. As God would have it, Joseph’s brother Reuben intervened, and Joseph’s life was spared. Still, he was about to have the worst day of his life. Rather than killing him, Joseph’s brothers threw him into a pit and sold him as a slave to a caravan of traveling Ishmaelites.
Joseph began the day as the favored son of Jacob. He had a God-given dream about his future. When the day ended his beloved father believed he was dead and Joseph was a slave with a one-way ticket to a foreign country. Most of us know our lives can change in an instant.
This begs the question; How do I respond when the bottom falls out?
As Joseph’s caravan rolled towards Egypt, he was undoubtedly terrified, angry, and broken-hearted. Can you imagine what was going through his mind? Internal dialogue is a powerful thing. Joseph didn’t have a lot of time to think through what had transpired. He didn’t have the luxury of taking a sick day while he regrouped on the couch. But there was one encouraging piece of news. In fact, it was a game changer. The text says, “The LORD was with Joseph” (Gen 39:2).
Joseph had a choice to make. He could either focus on everything that had gone wrong or he could fix his eyes on the God who hadn’t left his side. The same will be true for us. When the bottom falls out, we will either crumble like a cheap card table, or we will rely exclusively on the promises of God.
Whether or not we realize it, our thoughts are the most influential aspect of our lives. Our thoughts occupy center stage in our mind twenty-four hours a day. What else, or who else, has a greater influence over us? Perhaps that’s why the Bible has so much to say about our thought life. For better or worse, our thoughts guide our lives. It’s impossible to live a positive life if we are negative thinkers.
Martyn Lloyd-Jones wrote in his book, Spiritual Depression: Its Causes and Curses, “Have you realized that most of your unhappiness in life is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself instead of talking to yourself? Take those thoughts that come to you the moment you wake up in the morning. You have not originated them, but they start talking to you, they bring back the problem of yesterday, etc, Somebody is talking. Who is talking to you? Your self is talking to you.”
Lloyd-Jones goes on to write “The main art in the matter of spiritual living is to know how to handle yourself. You have to take yourself in hand, you have to address yourself, preach to yourself, question yourself.”
This isn’t wacky pop culture advice coming from a talk show or tabloid. Also, it shouldn’t be confused with positive thinking. Our thoughts must be guided by the truths of God’s Word. It’s a biblical concept that results in biblical thinking. It doesn’t matter what struggle you are facing; God ministers to His people through His Word. No matter what your issue is, the Bible speaks to it, and there are promises we can hold onto as we go through hard times.
As was the case with Joseph, in the midst of our tough times God is working in ways we can’t see. It might be to mature our faith, prepare us for something, or develop our character. Or it may be that we are going through a tough season simply as a result of living in a fallen world. We might not ever know the reason. But rest assured God didn’t waste Joseph’s seasons of struggle. And He won’t waste mine or yours. But to thrive in seasons of adversity we’ve got to be people who know God’s promises and rely on His Word. God is sovereign over our circumstances. So let us, “Fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith. (Heb 12:2).
 D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Spiritual Depression: Its Causes and Curses.