by Tony Coffey

While visiting an air force base a few years ago, I was afforded the opportunity to experience something of what training pilots undergo in preparing to fly fighter planes. I was placed in a swivel chair and told to I would be asked to point to a particular spot after the exercise had finished. It seemed simple enough.I was then blindfolded and the chair was put in motion. It wasn't long before I began to feel disoriented, though I thought I could still point to the correct spot. When the exercise finished I still had the blindfold on and was told to point to the spot. When the fold was removed I was surprised to see that I was pointing in the opposite direction, though I felt reasonably confidant I wasn't far off target.

The point of the exercise is to train pilots to fly, not by their instinct, but by their instrument panel. The instruments will never lie.

There were occasions when Joseph's life was spinning in all directions because of events that were happening to him, none of which were of his own making. He was living life in the swivel chair and could easily have become disoriented if he had not kept his eyes focused on God.

How do we survive the various crises that come into our lives? How can we avoid crash landing? The life of Joseph (see Genesis 37-50) provides a helpful example.

The Early Life of Joseph

Joseph was the favoured son of his aged father, Jacob, who made him a coat of many colours. Joseph was despised by his brothers. Their hatred displayed itself in a cruel and wicked crime. They sold Joseph to people travelling to Egypt. They then tore his coat, pouring blood over it and telling their father that Joseph had been killed by a wild animal. Jacob believed their story and mourned for his beloved son Joseph.

While in Egypt Joseph was sold to Potiphar, who placed him in charge of his entire household. God blessed all that Joseph did and Potiphar recognised that God was with him. However, Potiphar's wife had sinful desires about Joseph and his life was soon to undergo some trying times.

"Now Joseph was well-built and handsome, and after a while his master's wife took notice of Joseph and said, 'Come to bed with me!' But Joseph refused her invitation recognising it for what it was. He said, 'How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?' And though she spoke to Joseph day after day, he refused to go to bed with her or even to be with her." (Genesis 39: 6-10)

Potiphar's wife was persistent. And one day she grabbed Joseph's cloak in an attempt to involve him in her sinful desire but Joseph fled, leaving his cloak behind. When Potiphar arrived, his wife falsely accused Joseph of attempting to seduce her and displayed his cloak as proof. Infuriated, Potiphar sentenced Joseph to prison. Joseph's life was now in the swivel chair and beginning to gather speed.