Life At Its Best: Make stepping stones out of stumbling blocks

"One of the secrets of life is to make stepping stones out of stumbling blocks."

Many of us could attest to the truth of this statement. Everyone faces obstacles. Things happen we don't want, expect or deserve. People mistreat us. Tragedies occur. Opportunities are missed. There are things beyond our control.

We don't get to choose everything that happens to us in life, but we do choose how we respond. We decide whether our barriers become breakdowns or breakthroughs, millstones or milestones. Ultimately, our own actions and attitudes determine our outcome.

We see this truth played out in Joseph's life in the Bible. As a teenager, God gave him dreams revealing that he would rule over many people, including his family. When he told his brothers this dream, they became jealous and despised him.

One day, Joseph went out to visit his brothers as they were working in the fields. When they saw him coming, they devised a plan against him. They grabbed him and threw him in a pit. While he was in there, an Ishmaelite caravan drove by. They decided to sell him to the Ishmaelites, and he was taken to Egypt as a slave.

In that moment, Joseph had a choice. Was he going to become bitter? Or was he going to believe that, even in the worst of circumstances, God was bigger? Joseph made the choice God has called each of us to make. He decided that, regardless of what happened, he was going to trust in his greater plan. It didn't matter that he was a slave. He was going to continue carrying himself like the son of a king.

Joseph's decision paid off big time. Pharaoh saw that God was with him. He quickly promoted him from slave to second in command over all Egypt. He ruled over many people, just as God had shown him years before.

God wants to do the same for us. There are specific dreams he's called each one of us to fulfill. But those dreams don't just happen. They require us to effectively handle the obstacles that come our way.

The first way we do that is by refusing bitterness. There'll be people and circumstances that bring pain into our lives. We'll be tempted to allow bitterness to settle in our heart.

But we must consistently remind ourselves that God's bigger than any person or challenge that comes against us. He's on our side, and his power is great enough to heal every pain.

Then, we must make right attitudes and actions a priority. We must continue to live with an excellent spirit, regardless of what comes our way. We must strive for God's standard in every situation and refuse to let the actions of others dictate the attitude we live with. When we do, like Joseph, we'll find ourselves moving from the pit to the palace.

What obstacles have brought you pain? I encourage you to believe that God is bigger. Refuse to let bitterness take control and continue living by his standard. God's way is always better.

Jim Graff is the Senior Pastor of Faith Family Church in Victoria. faithfamilyvictoria.com.