On the long march to Egypt, as Joseph hobbled along, his ankles chaffed by the shackles banging at every step, it would have been very natural for him to continue as a victim, feeling sorry for himself, fantasizing about getting revenge on his brothers. However before he got to Egypt, it seems that Joseph moved from away from being a victim towards becoming a victor. This means he shifted his vision from his suffering to his God and seemed to grasp some of what his Lord was doing in the situation.
How do we know this? Because when Joseph arrived in Egypt and was sold to Potipher, he proved to be a hard working, pleasant, responsible, well-liked person, and God blessed him in all that he did.
“The LORD was with Joseph and he prospered, and he lived in the house of his Egyptian master. When his master saw that the LORD was with him and that the LORD gave him success in everything he did, Joseph found favor in his eyes and became his attendant. Potiphar put him in charge of his household, and he entrusted to his care everything he owned.” (Gen 39”2-4)
Victims are not like this. They are generally disagreeable people: angry, resentful, complaining, always seeking to blame others and often shirking responsibility. No, Joseph had become a victor, understanding that his God was at work here doing something. So Joseph embraced the challenge before him and triumphed in the midst of his slavery. Now his life was defined, not by his suffering, but by his achievements, the visible blessings of God in his life.
This is where most of us want to be, and when we arrive here, are content to stay. However, this is not the end point, it is only a means of reaching what God actually has for us, being a vector. The danger in remaining a victor is that we end up being focused on self, our blessings, our comforts, not on our Lord.
This was clearly illustrated when Joseph was tempted by Potipher’s wife. Listen to what he said. “With me in charge,” he told her, “my master does not concern himself with anything in the house; everything he owns he has entrusted to my care. No one is greater in this house than I am. My master has withheld nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?” (Gen 39:8,9, underlining added)
He was focused on all his achievements; note the use of “I, me, my.” He was conscious enough of God that he didn’t want to transgress, but the focus was on Joseph. Without knowing it, Joseph has become a glory-stealer. So can we when we camp out as victors. Or we can move to the next stage and become glory-givers. For this we often need God’s direct help through difficulty, as we will see in the next section.