Wednesday, 9 March 2016

For His Glory: Let my conviction be like Joseph’s

     He was a spoilt brat, a know-it-all teenager who made sure everyone else knew that he knew it all. He was a conceited, arrogant, self-centered, boastful, tattle-tale, who didn’t know when to keep his mouth shut and hadn’t yet developed the skills to win friends and influence people. Rather, he generated animosity and resentment, especially in his own family. To put it bluntly, he was a real jerk.
     Joseph was the favored and pampered son of the patriarch Jacob. Though he had everything on his side, so much going for him, and so much potential, he ended up alone in a deep, dark, damp, gloomy pit (Gen. 37:1-24).
Why do bad things happen to good people?
     On this occasion, Joseph pretty much brought it on himself. Sometimes we suffer because we make bad choices; we’re selfish, we don’t treat others with respect and dignity, and we end up dejected in the pit of despair. But these negative consequences we face due to our own immaturity and stupidity are not necessarily bad. Sometimes we need a wake-up call. We need the realities of life to kick us in the gut and help us realize that being a self-absorbed jerk is not the way we ought to be.
     It could’ve been worse. It was this dark, gloomy pit that saved Joseph’s life. And it began his journey toward maturity, developing integrity and character that would not only serve him well through life, but would be a blessing to so many others along the way.
     He ended up a slave in Egypt. For a Jewish boy separated for the first time from his family in a distant land, could it get any worse? Well, as a matter of fact, it could. And it did. Yet despite his dismal circumstances, the Lord was with Joseph, and the Lord blessed him (Gen. 39:2). Joseph rose to prominence as a servant in Potiphar’s house. He was finally maturing, and so was his faith. When cornered by Potiphar’s wife and offered the passing pleasures of sin, his unwavering conviction compelled him to respond: “How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?” (Gen. 39:9). And how was he rewarded for doing the right thing? Once again, he ended up in a dark, gloomy hole (v. 20).
Why do bad things happen to good people?
     Sometimes we suffer for righteousness’ sake because of the bad choices of others. But even in this dreary place in these miserable conditions, the Lord never left Joseph. The young man was blessed, and he prospered, and he was eventually delivered, once again rising to prominence. Yet there were more hardships to come. A seven-year famine hit, adversely affecting everyone throughout the region, including Joseph’s family in Canaan.
Why do bad things keep happening to good people?     
     Whether we have it all figured out or not, at least we know this: the adversities of life give the people of God the opportunity to be a beacon of hope, to be God’s instrument in blessing other people’s lives. Later Joseph would say to his brothers, “… for God sent me before you to preserve life” (Gen. 45:5). Thanks to Joseph providentially being in the right place at the right time, despite the extreme challenges he faced along the way, and because of his resolute commitment to never give up on God who never gave up on him, multitudes survived the seven-year famine, including his own family, his father Jacob, his brothers and their respective families, preserving the seed-line of the promised Messiah in whom you and I now have everlasting hope.
     Why do bad things happen to good people? Sometimes it’s because we face the consequences of our own bad decisions and stupid actions. Sometimes it’s because we try to do what’s right and then suffer because of the bad choices of others. And every time, we are afforded opportunities as God’s children to be a blessing to our fellow humans who are lost and hurting. For His Glory: let my conviction be like Joseph’s.
--Kevin L. Moore

*FHU chapel talk 2nd March 2016, based on Gen. 37:1–50:26.    

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