I was 12 the first time I read the story of Joseph in Genesis. I remember such strong opinions forming as I read through each twist, turn, and trial. It seemed that there was no escaping tragedy for Joseph. Just when he would begin to overcome his tragic circumstances, enjoy some success, or find favor…he would just as quickly have it all stripped away. His life was marked by brokenness time and again…a degree of brokenness most of us will never experience.
He lost his mother at a young age. His father favored him in such a way as to breed resentment from his brothers. His brothers despised him…to the point of wanting to murder him. He was spared death only to be rewarded with slavery. He was an innocent man accused of rape. He was publicly slandered and removed from his high ranking position of authority due to that accusation. He was imprisoned for years as a result of that false accusation…displaced from a palace to a dungeon. He was abandoned and forgotten by the man he aided to freedom…the man who promised he would return the blessing.
I remember being angry for Joseph…the gravity of his trials didn’t seem fair in light of how he lived. I also remember being mesmerized by Joseph…the magnitude of his faith didn’t seem justifiable in light of his tragic circumstances.
His faith made me curious about God…
which is exactly what faith should do.
Trials build our character and they reveal our character…but they should never cause us to question God’s character. Joseph’s response to the trials he faced was always faith. His faith was deeply rooted in the truth of who God is…the character of God, even in the midst of life’s worst circumstances. If we fully believe in the goodness of God and in the lavish love that He has for us…then we can rest in the truth that even in the midst of life’s most devastating trials…God remains trustworthy and at work in our life.
Life is so hard sometimes. It can be so painful…physically, emotionally, mentally. No one escapes the pain of life’s trials. No one. Nearly everyone will experience all of the most profound categories of pain that life has to offer…heartbreak, death, financial struggle, rejection, health problems, relational conflict, fear, humiliation, regret…our trials are endless…but so is God’s faithfulness.
I have walked through some of the worst darkness that life has to offer…I know significant pain. There have been seasons where suffering and trials were so prevalent and relentless that my life felt defined by pain…pain that seized my heart, caused me deep anguish, and left me questioning whether God had abandoned me. It’s so easy and natural for me to stand in the center of my pain and spin in every direction desperately looking for some sort of sign to find my way out of it. Sometimes relief comes quickly…but more often, it doesn’t. In the midst of those moments I have a very hard time seeing anything other than exactly what is in front of me. If I can’t see hope for relief in sight…I struggle to see God working for good. My response to trials is often based on such a small view of God and a narrow perspective on life.
I believe Joseph had a grand view of God and a broad perspective on life.
He felt the weight of tremendous pain…but he trusted God anyway. He was abandoned and rejected…but he trusted God anyway. He bore extreme and ongoing consequences for sin he did not commit…but he trusted God anyway. He was plotted against and left for dead…but he trusted God anyway. He had no idea what the future would hold…but he trusted God anyway. His faith was revealed through trials.
Hindsight always tends to offer an amazing view. When I look at the broad perspective of Joseph’s life I see so much more than his trials. I see victory. I see redemption and restoration. I see how God carefully walked with him and navigated his journey along an often tumultuous path. I see strength of character. I see a faith that surpasses circumstances. And most significantly…I see salvation. Salvation that came by way of Joseph, that was poured out on undeserving people. I see Jesus.
“You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”
Genesis 50:20 NIV
My narrow perspective on life always tempts me to question God’s goodness in the midst of suffering. My small view of God keeps my eyes focused so effortlessly on what is immediately in front of me. I don’t have a hindsight view in the midst of my trials…and I’m not guaranteed that I will ever see the fullness of the good that God is working through my own life and my own trials as Joseph was blessed to see. But I do have His Word…which offers me a clear picture and broad perspective of His perfect love and grace poured out on His children…even by way of trials and in spite of pain and suffering.
Whatever trial you’re in the midst of right now…God sees you…He hears you cry…He knows your pain and He has not left your side. He may seem distant…but He’s there. Lean in.
“Trust Me, Christian,”
He whispers in the dark silence of anxiety and loneliness.
“Trust Me, Christian!!”
He shouts in the midst of the gripping fear of life’s most violent storms.
“Trust Me, Christian?”
He pleads as He wipes the tears of suffering that He knows all too well.
“Trust Me, Christian. . .”
He boldly leads as he takes our hand and guides us through every step of uncertainty and instability.
“Trust Me, Christian.”
I AM THE WAY
BY HIS GRACE & FOR HIS GLORY,