We in America tend to think that if we’re suffering, that we’re doing something wrong. The first thought that usually comes to mind is, what did I do to deserve this? Or why is everything so bad? Surely it must be because I didn’t work hard enough, or study hard enough, or I’m not good enough, and especially these days, I’m not good-looking enough.
Yet, the reality is, that just because we’re suffering doesn’t mean that we’re doing something wrong, in fact, sometimes it means we’re doing something right. In a sermon that I heard late last night on my way home from work, Pastor Brian Broderson from Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa was talking about how we usually think we’re in God’s will if everything is peaceful and going fine, and we don’t tend to think we’re in His will if things are turbulent. He made a great point, and the Lord not only brought examples from my own life to mind, but several scriptural ones that really impacted me.
First off, Joseph is the perfect example of this, he was his father’s favorite son, and then he was sold into slavery by his own brothers because they were jealous of him (Genesis 37:11,20-24). Not only that, but after being promoted for doing a great job, (Gen 39:2) because the Lord was with him and made him successful, he was shortly asked to sleep with Potifar’s wife, the Egyptian officer of Pharaoh that purchased him (Gen 39:1-7). In our time period, this would be like sleeping or being asked to sleep with the wife of the vice president or another high ranking Washington official. The worst part is that because he amazingly says no, and responds with, how then could i do this great evil and sin against God? Notice, he doesn’t say his master, but rather his Master. He’s concerned with sinning against God, not Potifar. Given that God is the one who has blessed him and got him out of prison and out of the pit, he’s smart to realize what we don’t, this was all God’s doing. God got him out of the pit, God got him out of the prison, and that is not the guy you want to sin against, and God is also going to make him the second most powerful person in the world (Gen 39:19-23).
Since Joseph continued to be faithful to the Lord even after being accused of rape and sent to prison, the Lord made everything that He did prosper. He became the head of the jail, and would soon be released because God would give him the interpretation to the Pharaoh’s dream (Gen 41:14-49). Often times, when we go over this passage and even while I was writing this, we tend to think of Joseph being the one that interprets the dream, but Joseph tells Pharaoh that God will give him the answer, and interestingly enough it’s God that interprets Pharaoh’s dream. Most importantly though, when Joseph was finally past all of this, out of jail, the second most powerful man in the world, and encountered his brothers again, he told them that what they had meant for evil, God had used for good. (Gen 50:20)
This is the part that stuck out to me while I was listening to Brian Broderson’s sermon on the radio, we forget that sometimes God ochestrates things in a way we don’t understand, and sometimes they don’t feel good, or involve suffering, Like Christ headed to the Cross. Jesus asked that the cup be passed from Him, and told his father, not my will, but yours be done (Luke 22:42). The disciples didn’t realize that this was the will of God at the time, nor did those who witnessed his death, they were expecting Him to reign as the king who entered on Palm Sunday, but Jesus was the suffering servant, and like Christ, sometimes God’s will for us is to suffer before we ascend.