Several weeks ago, a huge tree in our backyard was uprooted during a storm. When it fell, it revealed that the tree was rotten at its base and therefore did not have enough strength to hold up against the storm. It was surprising to me, because the tree looked perfectly healthy from the outside. It showed no signs of weakness, and I had not suspected any problems. However, it was an important visual reminder that the inside is more important than the outside. That’s true for trees, and it’s true for us! What’s happening on the inside of us is more important than what’s happening on the outside!
Often, we give too much attention to the outside – the circumstances around us. However, what’s really important is the work God is doing within us even right in the middle of the circumstances. We see this principle displayed when we read in the Bible about the life of Joseph. When Joseph was 17 years old, God revealed to him through two dreams that he would be promoted to a position of authority so that even his father, mother, and brothers would bow down to him. However, many years passed before those dreams came to pass, and Joseph had to endure lots of unpleasant circumstances in the meantime. He was rejected by his brothers, sold into slavery, framed as a criminal, placed into prison, and forgotten about.
Based on what Joseph was seeing on the outside, there was no chance that his dreams would come to pass. However, on the inside, Joseph remained strong and pure, and that is what’s important. The Bible tells us, “Until the time came to fulfill his dreams, the LORD tested Joseph’s character” (Psalm 105:19, NLT). It would have been easy for Joseph to develop a sour attitude and give up on his dreams, but instead he developed a strong character that prepared him for his dreams! As John Maxwell points out, “When faced with adversity, people become either bitter or better. Joseph chose the latter.” Through it all, Joseph grew strong on the inside, and eventually his dreams came to pass. He was promoted to second in command over the whole nation of Egypt, and his family indeed bowed down to him.
Like Joseph, we should focus on what is happening on the inside of us rather than what is happening on the outside around us. No matter what you’re going through today, let God strengthen you on the inside. I share a prayer with you that Paul prayed for the church at Ephesus: “I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit” (Eph. 3:16, NLT). Receive God’s strength today!