Genesis 39:23, “The LORD was with him; and whatever he did, the LORD made it prosper”
James 1:3, “The testing of your faith produces patience”
Some of the best sermons I’ve ever heard weren’t preached from the pulpit, but from the beds of sick people. The deepest truths of God’s Word have often been taught by those humble individuals who have gone through the school of affliction. With very few exceptions, the most cheerful people I’ve met have been those who’ve had the least amount of sunshine and the most pain and suffering in their lives. Moreover, the most appreciative people I have known weren’t those who had traveled a pathway of roses all their life, but those who were confined to their homes, some to their beds, and had learned to patiently depend on God, their Creator and Sustainer. The men and women who are the most cheerful and thankful for the blessings of Almighty God are often those who have gone through the greatest trials. I have come to the conclusion that life is hard for everybody, but much harder for some than others. Putting our trust in Christ as our Savior does little to change that, because nothing in the Bible promises us a free pass merely because we are Christ’s followers. In fact, some of our wounds may not heal and some of our deficiencies may not be corrected during our lifetime. They may even get worse! Yet, all of our deformities and weaknesses are only temporary. The Scriptures tell us if we respond properly to the trials of life, we will develop patience and godly maturity (Romans 5:3-5; James 1:3-4). Moreover, we must always keep in mind that our present sufferings are “but for a moment” and that they are being used by God for our eternal good and to bring about His perfect plan (2 Corinthians 4:17-18). Above all we must remember that heaven lies ahead, where “God will wipe away every tear from [our] eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain” (Revelation 21:4). The path of sorrow and trials will have led us to the land where loss is unknown, a place where there is no grief, but only joy and the service for which we’ve been fully prepared. My brethren, this puts our sorrow and trials in perspective and is the sweet aftermath of sorrow.
Have you ever done everything right, only to see it all turn wrong? Does that mean you’re bad and God has rejected you? Joseph, one of God’s servants was one of those souls who traveled through the school of affliction. He may have had similar questions also during the events recorded in Genesis 39. His problems began when he was sold into slavery by his own brothers (can you imagine that). Then, no matter what right move he made, trouble kept stalking him. As an example despite his integrity, Joseph was falsely accused of committing a serious crime against the wife of Potiphar, his master. Potiphar responded by throwing Joseph into prison. There he was, a good, honest, and God trusting man, languishing away in an Egyptian jail.
(1) Why didn’t God get him out?
(2) Why wasn’t the truth investigated?
(3) How unfair it must have seemed!
For almost two years, nothing happened; however, here’s what’s important: “The LORD was with Joseph” (Genesis 39:21) as He is with each of us as we go through the school of affliction. God was working out His plan, and for a while it called for Joseph to be in an Egyptian prison. What seemed to be bad was actually good, because it was part of God’s perfect plan. I’m also mindful of the apostle Paul and the difficulties he endured that is recorded for us in 2 Corinthians 11. He was beaten with rods, stoned and shipwrecked. He was in perils in the city and wilderness, in the sea and among false brethren. He was often hungry and thirsty. I’ll close this devotional with the example of Job who accused God of destroying man’s hope (Job 14:18-22). When God finally answered him, He didn’t give the reason for Job’s suffering. Instead, the Lord challenged him to provide explanations for the mysteries of nature. Job quickly got the point and reached the humble conclusion that he must let God be God (38-42). My friend and brethren, in all our troubles, may God help us to do the same.
God allows trials in our lives, not to impair us, but to improve us. He may not always give us answers, but He always gives us grace.