When we interpret something, we try to gain some understanding of that thing. We look at the facts, we may note what information we don’t have, and from there we draw a conclusion. That conclusion will help us understand what’s going on in a particular situation or with a particular thing. Interpretation helps us to make sense of something that initially may be unclear or confusing to us.
Two different people can look at the same situation and interpret things completely differently. Take the example of a jury deliberating a case. They are presented with the same set of facts. Five of the six jurors come to the same conclusion, but one doesn’t see things the same way. It’s all in the interpretation.
Let’s look at the biblical character Joseph. The facts of his life are: his brothers were jealous and wanted to kill him, they threw him into a pit, and then sold him into bondage, he was later imprisoned for a crime he didn’t commit, and was left to languish in jail (and forgotten by someone who promised to help him). In total, Joseph experienced challenges for about 17 years of his short life.
How do you think he interpreted these facts? The Word of God can help us answer that question.
Genesis 39:2 – And the Lord was with Joseph, and he was a prosperous man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian.
Genesis 39:21 – But the Lord was with Joseph, and shewed him mercy, and gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison.
Based on these scriptures, I believe that Joseph trusted God in his circumstances. Genesis never says that Joseph was bitter and angry. It never says he mistreated those under whom he worked. The Bible says that Joseph prospered, and received mercy from God, and was granted favor from his superiors. I believe Joseph chose to interpret his circumstances in a positive light instead of a negative one, and this is reflected in the mercy, favor and prosperity he received.
What about you? How do you see our challenges? You can interpret them in a negative light (“I’ll never amount to anything” “I keep failing”), or you can stand on the word of God and see them from a different perspective. Scriptures tells us in Romans 8:28: “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” That means, no matter how bad your circumstances may seem right now, they are being orchestrated for our good and for our benefit by an omnipotent, omniscient God. The facts are the same, but it’s all in the interpretation.
It’s important to note that we can choose our interpretation! We can decide to listen to Satan and his lies, or we can focus on the truth of God’s word. Paul tells us in Philippians 4:8 to think on things that are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, and of good report. We have free will to interpret our trials one way or another.
Today, I encourage you to ask God to help you see your circumstances from His perspective, gaining His interpretation of what’s happening. How we see things will impact how we live our lives. God says we are more than conquerors (Romans 8:37), and we can only live as a conqueror based on how we view our lives. After all, it’s all in the interpretation.