Pain always has a purpose.
The life of Joseph in the Old Testament stands to us as a testimony of God’s incredible ways of working in the lives of people. Anyone can receive great insight from his life, especially those that sense a special calling of God upon their lives.
In the beginning of the account on Joseph’s life, we see that he had the favor of his father, Now Israel loved Joseph more than any other of his sons, because he was the son of his old age. And he made him a robe of many colors (Genesis 37:3 ESV). Because of this, Joseph was hated by his brothers and they gave him a hard time. Oftentimes in our lives, we sense the favor of God but at the same time we also sense the opposition of the enemy. It’s easy to wonder in those times, “why is God allowing this, if He truly loves me?” Yet, God’s ways are much deeper than our ways and He is after refining our character.
God gave Joseph dreams but he experienced much misunderstanding from his entire family. But when he told it to his father and to his brothers, his father rebuked him and said to him, “What is this dream that you have dreamed? Shall I and your mother and your brothers indeed come and bow ourselves to the ground before you?” (Genesis 37:10). In this dream, he dreamt that his entire family will bow down to him. Maybe God showed you that He has an amazing plan for your life but don’t rush ahead of Him. It will only lead to heartache for you because people have a hard time rejoicing with others and the enemy often uses those closest to you to crush your God-given dream. Keep God’s promises in your heart, and wait for Him to bring them to pass in His own time and way. Remember, before experiencing glory, Jesus had to experience the cross.
I’m sure most of you know the story of Joseph and how he was sold by his brothers to Midianite traders who took Joseph to Egypt. By now, the story seems to to take a desperate turn but amazingly enough, Joseph was right in the middle of God’s plan for His life. Could it be that the hardest thing that’s happened in your life is the very center of God’s will? God doesn’t waste the circumstances of our lives, they are all carefully allowed for a specific purpose. God could have easily placed Joseph in a high position in Egypt without the pain but God knows best. He knows that we need preparation and He takes us through the school of suffering in order to make us worthy of the high calling He has for us.
In Egypt, Joseph became an overseer of Potiphar’s house because of the favor of God upon His life. God’s favor surrounds us when we are obedient to Him. His favor is not limited to time or space. People cannot diminish the favor of God upon our lives, no matter how much they try. Potiphar’s wife tempted Joseph to sleep with her but He refused. This brought Joseph much turmoil in his life. Even though he did the right thing by keeping himself pure before God, Potiphar’s wife unjustly accused him of wanting to rape her. Joseph was put in prison and spent a few good years there. In my own life, I can honestly relate to this. I have seen injustice first hand and it has tested me greatly. This episode of Joseph’s life is another powerful reminder to keep trusting God even when nothing makes sense. Eventually, as you probably know, Joseph was released from prison and because of God’s gift of interpreting Pharaoh’s dreams about the impending famine, he was given power over all the land of Egypt. Even though the hand of God was at work even through the fog of Joseph’s life, His intricate workings are quite evident by now.
One day, his brothers came to buy grain from Egypt, the famine being severe in their homeland. Joseph saw his brothers and recognized them, but he treated them like strangers and spoke roughly to them (Genesis 42:7a). I can’t imagine what Joseph must have felt when he was suddenly face to face with those who had sold him into slavery. They were in such a vulnerable situation and the Bible says that they bowed themselves before him with their faces to the ground (verse 6b). I’m sure Joseph was able to recall his dream when this happened. Even though Joseph tested his brothers by accusing them of being spies and of stealing from him, he eventually revealed his identity to them. So no one stayed with him when Joseph made himself kown to his brothers. And he wept aloud, so that the Egyptians heard it, and the household of Pharaoh heard it (Genesis 45 1a-2). How Egypt must have changed Joseph over the years as he matured into a grown man of very high influence, yet, it never stained his character!
Joseph ended up providing for his entire family, who were kept alive during a severe famine. He also brought his family to Egypt and settled them in the best of the land. This is truly remarkable! Maybe most people would have been quick to take revenge but Joseph showed mercy to his brothers. I love how the Bible says that, Joseph bowed himself with his face to the earth before his father (Genesis 48:12b). Joseph respected his father’s authority even though he was in a position of great power. He honored God and His ways in a pagan land. Before his death, Jacob blessed His sons, Joseph’s blessing being the most special among them all. Among the things that he declared over Joseph, his father pronounced, may God’s blessings be on the head of Joseph, and on the brow of him who was set apart from his brothers (Genesis 49:26b).
Throughout history, God has set people apart for His special purposes. They are empowered to walk into their destiny through complete faith and absolute obedience. The heaviest of His blessings rest upon the lives of those that remain faithful to Him, no matter the cost! One day, we will be able to say like Joseph, every evil God had meant for good…