Tuesday, January 20, 2009

JOSEPH, INJUSTICE, AND SUFFERING

I’m starting to discover a pattern in what God is showing me as I read through the Bible this year. Perhaps it is a pattern that reflects the condition of my heart. Perhaps it is something God is giving me in order to prepare me. Perhaps it is a pattern of the Christian life that I just never saw before. Consider….

A couple of weeks ago I posted on the Beatitudes. And my friend, Don Sands, also posted on Matthew 5:11, 12. (See “No Cross, No Crown” http://www.dlsands.blogspot.com/) Here are the verses, Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. Unjust persecution. Rejoice. Be glad. Great is your reward.

Then just the other day I posted thoughts about Jacob and wrestling with God. God gets close and life gets painful and I grab on and hold on for dear life, demanding that God bless me if I am going to hurt like this.

Now I come to Joseph. Genesis 39-41. We all know the story. Sold into slavery by vengeful brothers. He was blessed and became a blessing in the house of Potiphar. Until the wife fails to seduce him and lies to her husband about Joseph. Joseph ends up imprisoned where he is blessed and becomes a blessing. He correctly interprets dreams for the cupbearer and the baker of Pharaoh. The surviving cupbearer fails to remember Joseph and Joseph continues to languish in prison. Until Pharaoh has a dream and the cupbearer’s memory is jogged. Joseph comes out and correctly interprets Pharaoh’s dreams. A story of repeated injustice, suffering, pain, grief, and, blessing.

I am very impressed with Joseph. He is loyal and faithful. He seems very patient. He is the ultimate example of a slave rising to success, power, and blessing. But what he has to go through is unimaginable to me! How does he do it?

Joseph has faith that God’s hand is upon him and so he does that which God puts into his hand. He serves Potiphar to the best of his ability because he knows God is in control of his situation. Do I know beyond any shadow of doubt that God is in control of my situation?

Joseph knows that any sin he commits is against God. Sure, he doesn’t want to betray his master, Potiphar, by messing around with his wife. But do you see what reason he gave her? How could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God? (Genesis 39:10) We deal lightly with sin in our Christian culture. How would it change my attitude if I kept before my eyes the fact that all sin is sin against God, not just other people or myself?

When confronted by the baker and cupbearer Joseph steps out in faith and offers to interpret their dreams. Do not interpretations belong to God? (Genesis 40:8) What difficult task lies before me? What impossible thing has God put into my hands? It’s not up to me. It’s up to God. Step out in faith. Does not success belong to God?

Finally, when Pharaoh calls Joseph to interpret his dreams he says, I have heard it said of you that when you hear a dream you can interpret it. Joseph responds, I cannot do it, but God will give Pharaoh the answer he desires. (Genesis 41:15, 16) He gives God all the glory. And that is what God desires!

Joseph sees opportunities to glorify God even when God has put him in situations that are unjust and painful. Perhaps Joseph wrestled with God every night. We don’t know. But the fact of the matter is that he still sought God’s glory in the midst of his suffering and sorrow. That is why he was both a blessing and blessed.

1 Comments:

At 5:44 AM, Blogger holly said...

If I am to be persecuted, let it be because of HIM...but where is that assurance that it is? "God gets close and life gets painful and I grab on and hold on for dear life, demanding that God bless me if I am going to hurt like this." This is so great and so true, I had to stop right here and pray and confess that I do expect to be blessed if He's going to allow me to suffer! Who am I that He should, or would choose to bless me in any way?
"Do I know beyond any shadow of doubt that God is in control of my situation?" Lord, I believe, help my unbelief! This blog is so encouraging to me, when I feel like taking a rest from the race of faith! Thanks Dave!

 

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