[The following basic insights came from Fran Sciacca, leader of Hands of Hur Minstries. Check out his edifying resources on his website at http://www.handsofhur.org]
In every situation we can choose to be one of the following: a victim, a victor, or a vector (an arrow pointing to God).
If we choose to respond as a victim, feeling sorry for ourselves, blaming others, grumbling and complaining, then we allow our suffering to define our lives.
If we choose to be a victor, turning difficulties into opportunities, we allow our successes to define our lives.
If we choose to be a vector, going beyond success to the reason for our existence, we allow our relationship with the Lord Jesus, our Great, Glorious and Good God, to define our lives.
Joseph in the OT was first a victim, then a victor and finally a vector, so we’ll look at his life to understand these concepts better.
Joseph, the next to the youngest of 11 brothers, foolishly told his older brothers of his dreams in which they bowed down to him–an huge insult in an honor culture. They were already jealous of him and this certainly fanned the flames further.
Then his father foolishly sent Joseph off alone to spy on his brothers. When they saw him in the distance, “’Here comes that dreamer!’ they said to each other. ‘Come now, let’s kill him and throw him into one of these cisterns and say that a ferocious animal devoured him. Then we’ll see what comes of his dreams.’” (Gen. 37:19,20)
When they had thrown Joseph into the cistern, he cried and begged them to take him out. He was thinking like a victim: his life was being redefined by his suffering. He was feeling sorry for himself, complaining and wanted to blame others.
A bit later when his brothers pulled him out of the pit, he probably was relieved but then was devastated when he saw they were selling him as a slave. This was a sentence to an early death. No hope. No help. Poor me. And the treatment he got on his journey only encouraged him in his victim mentality. So how did he move on to being a victor?