It is an undeniable truth: What you hold on to is what will hold on to you. One of my life passages is Psalm 105:17-19, which reads, “He sent a man before them, Joseph, who was sold as a slave. They hurt his feet with fetters; his neck was put in an iron collar. Until the time that his word came to pass, the word of the Lord tested him.” This passage speaks deeply to my soul. If anyone in history had valid reasons to carry pain with them throughout life, it was Joseph. Each of us who hears his story could easily understand if he were a bitter man. But Joseph chose to hold the promise instead of the pain. And the promise brought him through the pit and the prison to the palace. The promise he held onto also held onto him and propelled him to his place in God’s plan.
At just 17 years old, he experienced two vivid dreams that gave him a glimpse into destiny. He would one day be a leader. Not just a leader, but one of such significance that even his family would bow before him. He was excited about his future, excited enough to proudly tell the dreams to his brothers, his father and anyone who would listen. He would soon learn the valuable lesson that promises most often include some pain.
Joseph’s brothers began to call him, “the dreamer.” And they weren’t complimenting him. They held him in contempt, and one day seized on the opportunity to be rid of him once and for all. Little did they know as they beat him, mocked him, threw him in the pit and later sold him as a slave, they were setting him up for greatness. The painful setback was, in reality, a setup for destiny. Joseph later said, “But as for you, you intended to harm me, but God intended it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many lives” (Gen. 50:20).
Joseph endured the humiliation of slavery and the injustice of prison with such a firm grip on the promise that in both Potiphar’s house and prison, the blessing was at work. The anointing for leadership elevated him to positions of trust with his peers and his superiors in both arenas. God was setting him up for the future. Setback after setback came, but he consistently refused to let go of the promise. Joseph learned that the promise demands preparation.
“Until the time that his word came to pass, the word of the Lord tested him” (Ps. 105:19). The word translated “tested” means “to try, refine, to purify, to fuse together, to prove the quality.” The very promise God gives us works in us to bring us to the place of fulfillment. The great teacher Oswald Chambers said it this way, “God gives us the vision, then He takes us down to the valley to batter us into the shape of the vision, and it is in the valley that so many of us faint and give way. Every vision will be made real if we will have patience.”
In the process of the promise, God purifies us. He gets us into the shape of the vision. Stop praying for what you are unwilling to prepare for! When the time comes for the promise to become a reality, we must be ready.
The process of the promise prepares us. Joseph’s motivation was purified until the dream was no longer about him but others. Those who know why will always lead those who know what and how. Joseph’s associations changed. He was removed from his comfortable place and put into a place of continual discomfort physically, mentally and emotionally. It seemed that his dreams were only the prideful wishes of a spoiled brat lying on his mat wrapped in his special coat of many colors. But God was holding onto to Joseph in the damp prison when all he possessed was a worn-out blanket. When it felt like the night would never let him go, God was holding him.
Joseph tapped into three keys that enabled him to thrive in captivity and endure to experience His destiny! First, he consistently chose to hold the promise and not the pain. I know the pain is real, but the promise is of a greater reality. In Jesus, the promises are “‘Yes,’ and in Him ‘Amen,’ to the glory of God through us” (2 Cor. 1:20). He is faithful! Second, Joseph consistently chose to believe the promise even when the facts screamed, “No way!” Like his great grandfather Abraham, Joseph did not consider the current circumstances to the be the final word. He believed the word of the Lord. Third, he persevered through the power of patience. He refused to be distracted by pain or pleasure from the promise God gave him.
Joseph held onto the promise, and the promise held on to him. If Joseph can do it. then so can you. In fact, you possess a distinct advantage over Joseph. You have his story! Hebrews 6:12 instructs us to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises. If you are born again, you have the DNA of Jesus. Your Holy Spirit of God is dwelling inside you. Make a choice to hold on to the promise regardless of how the process looks! Don’t give up on the future because of failure in the past or weakness in your present. Let the promise shape you and make you. Your world needs you. The time is here for you to be a blessing to your generation. Hold on to the promise, because what you hold on to—will hold onto you!
Keith Nix is the founding lead pastor of a thriving congregation, The Lift Church in Sevierville, Tennessee. He has traveled as an international evangelist since 1993 carrying a unique prophetic message of awakening to this generation. He and his wife, Margie, have one daughter, Isabella. To learn more and get a free audio download you can visit: keithnix.net.