Steps in Disguise

“Not even the smallest detail of life happens unless God’s will is behind it.”

Oswald Chambers

I’m reading through the Bible this year and currently I’ve been studying the saga of Joseph. Reading Genesis, chapters 37-50, you will discover Joseph being promoted and demoted several times. I would not use the word “fair” to describe Joseph’s life. Unfair, maybe. Frustrating, yes. But through all the injustices of being betrayed by his brothers, sold into slavery, and being falsely accused by his boss’s wife and thrown into prison, Joseph remained faithful to God. He lives happily ever after, by becoming second in command to Pharaoh. As a result, during years of famine, he was able to provide for his father and brothers.

A couple of things encourage me about this story. I’m comforted knowing God was with Joseph throughout the ups and downs of his life and it was God’s presence that gave Joseph success in everything he did, causing him to have favor in the eyes of others. I’m amazed at Joseph’s response to both the demotions and promotions in life. He took the injustices and his successes with the same strides of humility and trust in God’s sovereignty. He knew both were allowed from God’s hands and he submitted his life to God’s will. Instead of allowing the offense of his brothers’ betrayal to turn into unforgiveness, bitterness, and revenge, he chose to forgive and bless his brothers. In Genesis 45:8, Joseph tells his brothers it was not them who sent him to Egypt, but God, for the placement of him as ruler over all of Egypt. Joseph knew that even though his brothers intended to harm him, God intended it for good. (Genesis 50:20)

What seemed to be demotions for Joseph, really were God’s steps in disguise for promotions. Andrew Murray once said, “Humiliation is the only ladder to honoring God’s Kingdom.” Demotions in life can serve to grow within our hearts the attitudes of humility, forgiveness and submission, producing greater intimacy with God. As part of God’s preparation for Joseph becoming a righteous ruler over Egypt, God needed to first see if Joseph was trustworthy to handle that great position of responsibility. God wanted to know if Joseph could be trusted with position, power and influence.

Several years ago God “demoted” me twice in order to prepare my heart to be “promoted.” He was chiseling away my identity being in what I do, i.e. ministry, and sculpted it into having my identity being who I am as His daughter. If you will, He was conforming my identity into becoming “Daddy’s girl.”

Is God using the hard circumstances in your life to birth humility and submission to His will? When God’s presence is of utmost importance, rather than fame, power or riches, then God will find you trustworthy to handle those things righteously. Would you be a trustworthy leader if you held onto grudges and wanted to hurt those who have hurt you?

God’s math is different than ours. He takes away only to multiply more. He subtracts in order to add. And what may seem as a demotion in your life can actually be steps in disguise to His promotion, if you let them make you more Christ-like.

“The things that happen either make us evil, or they make us more saintly, depending entirely on our relationship with God and its level of intimacy.”

Oswald Chambers

Relevant Reflections:

1. Is your life fully submitted to God’s will? Do you trust God with both the promotions as well as the demotions in your life?

2. What “fruit” has been produced within your character through your experience of demotions?

3. Looking back on your life, how have demotions been steps in disguise for God’s promotions?

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