joseph was thirty years old when he entered the service of pharaoh king of egypt. [genesis 41:46a]
joseph was enslaved for 17 years.
seventeen years ago today was october 7, 2005. consider all the things the Lord has done in your life since 2005.
it says in Genesis 39:2 that the Lord was with joseph, and joseph was a successful man at potiphar’s house. yet he was falsely accused by potiphar’s wife and was still sent to prison, where he remained for 17 years.
it is a miracle that joseph was faithful. that can only be attributed to the Lord’s hand.
i cannot fathom what joseph’s thought life looked like. day after day, waiting for God’s redemption over his situation. trying to remain faithful by sharing truth with his counterparts, interpreting the cupbearer and bakers’ dreams. hoping that the cupbearer would remember him… but being let down again.
all of this was in God’s perfect timing. it did not appear that God was redeeming joseph’s situation, but he was redeeming joseph’s heart in the waiting. he was preparing joseph’s heart to be obedient when he would eventually be given authority over egypt. he was using joseph to explain truth to others in a seemingly hopeless situation.
it’s difficult to imagine such suffering. the closest thing i can remember is my sister’s testimony:
my sister was diagnosed with crohn’s disease in 2011. her gastrointestinal system was mistaking food proteins as attackers; essentially, her body was attacking itself. her body would not digest food properly for 6 years. she was physically suffering, losing a lot of weight and constantly fatigued. she was emotionally suffering, confused as multiple medicines would not work. she was exhausted from a lack of clarity during such a demanding season.
as her protective sister, i was angry at God. i would not consider myself surrendered to Christ at this time, and i was frustrated how God could let someone so in love with him suffer so intensely while under his care.
i watched my sister seem to waste away outwardly, but with half-open eyes, she was listening to the Word of God being read aloud. she was praying while being connected to another feeding tube. she was kind to the nurses.
she could not do that on her own strength. she had no strength to contribute to God’s cause, which is how we are to live inside and outside of suffering: completely dependent on him. it was not her faithfulness that healed her to remission from crohn’s, just as joseph’s faithfulness was not what gave him freedom from prison. it was God’s loving faithfulness… his steadfast love that remains the same in the hills and valleys.
God’s faithfulness to give her his strength is what made me curious as to who God was. if my sister was still seeking the Lord’s heart when she couldn’t recognize his hand, then there was something about God that i was missing. God used my sister’s suffering to draw me to him. i was saved the following year.
consider a time where you suffered. in hindsight, ask God to show you the ways in which he was faithful.
if you are suffering now, be encouraged that God could be using you as a reflection of Him to draw others near to himself. is this a call to perform, or to stuff your suffering away in the back corner of your mind? definitely not, as that would lessen the understanding of just how awe-inspiring God’s timing and work are.
brothers and sisters, let us sit at Jesus’ feet in our suffering, knowing that he loved us first, and he suffered for us first.
“humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. be sober-minded; be watchful. your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. and after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.” [1 peter 5:6-10]
he will himself restore you.
he will confirm you.
he will strengthen you.
he will establish you on his solid rock foundation.
be still, and know that he is God (psalm 46:10).
Lord, we believe, help our unbelief. help us to run to you alone in our suffering, knowing that your heart always remains faithful even though we cannot see how your hand is working. thank you for your boundless, steadfast love. amen.