God Is Faithful Through Pain
Last week we discovered the immenseness of God’s story and how that overwhelming scope points us to the overwhelming God. We learned, though, that even in His “overwhelmingness”, God’s story intersects the human experience in very personal ways. Through the lives of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, we see God’s activity as He writes His redemption story.
The Beginning of Joseph’s Story
This week we began to unpack the life of one of Jacob’s sons: Joseph. Joseph was the oldest son of Jacob’s favorite wife, Rachel. As Joseph’s story begins, we can see that he is the favorite son of Jacob’s twelve. We also see that God has his hand on Joseph. At 17, Joseph begins to have dreams, given by God, that show his other family members God’s intentions for the future. These dreams and their obvious interpretations upset his brothers – to the point of desiring Joseph’s death. And so the plot to kill him begins.
As the story unfolds, the frustration of the brothers deepens and they are finally given opportunity to act on their plan when Joseph comes to check on them as they tend Jacob’s flocks in Dothan (about 65 miles away from home). Rather than kill him, they decide to sell him to Midianite traders on their way to Egypt. But, in the middle of all of the family chaos, Scripture tells us that “The Lord was with Joseph.”
God In The Midst Of Our Pain
Joseph was sold into slavery. Because God’s hand was on him and because Joseph showed initiative in his undesirable circumstances, he rose to prominence in the house of Potiphar. Joseph became the slave in charge of everything except for what Potiphar put in his mouth to eat. Just when things begin to look up for Joseph, Potiphar’s wife tries to entice Joseph into an affair with her. When he resists, she falsely accuses him and he is thrown into prison and yet Scripture again echoes that “The Lord was with Joseph.”
In the middle of difficult circumstances, Joseph has a choice. He can choose to blame or curse God or he can choose to exercise faith and trust God. Joseph chooses the latter. In choosing to trust God’s story, Joseph sets an example for us to follow. In the middle of pain and difficulties, Joseph not only trusts that his struggles are part of story still being written, but he also trusts the Author of that story. The application for our lives is to be faithful when the story is clear and trust God when it’s not, because the story isn’t over yet.
Growing Through Pain
The God of the Bible is an overwhelming God. He is also intensely personal. As we learn more about the overwhelming story of redemption that He is writing, we are given the opportunity to participate in that story. If Jesus is Master and Lord of our lives, and we are part of His big story to bring about His glory and our salvation, then our lives are only a small part of the overwhelming story of redemption. Our lives are small scenes in the story of eternity. When we experience pain or difficult circumstances we can rest in the fact that the pain may not be punishment, but instead may be God’s way of maturing us to further His bigger story. The way we respond to pain and difficulties is directly related to the depth of our faith. James tells us: “when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.”
On this side of eternity, we are going to experience pain – Jesus promised it (John 16:33). While it is not easy, trusting that there is a bigger story unfolding and, ultimately, trusting the Author of that story, gives us great perspective.
In the coming week’s we’ll see how God uses Joseph’s pain to redeem his entire family. The redemption of Joseph’s family line sets the stage for the nation of Israel, it’s deliverance from slavery in Egypt and, ultimately, the arrival of the Messiah.
Want to Talk About It?
Do you have questions about your place in God’s story? Do you have questions about God’s activity in your life? We’d love to help by walking with you. You can reach out to us and begin a conversation.