We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.
When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners.
Romans 5:3-6 (NLT)
This is Blessed?
I’m sure you can imagine, I love words.
One of my favorite words is disintegrate. Not only do I like the sound of it, the word defines itself. Disintegrate—not to put together, to take apart—to DIS integrate. As a child watching Saturday morning cartoons, I laughed out loud when Daffy Duck pulled out his “disintegrating pistol” and the pistol turned to dust when he pulled the trigger. Daffy’s comment, “When it disintegrates, brother, it disintegrates.”
Joseph: falsely accused and in prison. We don’t know what was going through his mind. My imagination can fill in the blanks. I know what I would think in that circumstance.
I doubt I would think of the word “blessed” if I was Joseph.
Joseph’s Lesson from Suffering
Since Joseph was in an Egyptian prison, and since Paul hadn’t written these words yet, Joseph was spared the kind and caring reminder that suffering is actually good for the believer. If you caught a whiff of sarcasm in that sentence, you are on your game today!
I do believe that suffering is good for the believer. I know, from experience being offered the reminder in the middle of suffering, doesn’t make the one suffering feel better. This is a touchy subject with me. I’ve suffered. I’ve seen suffering. I’ve felt the sting of the glib reminder that all things work together for good. I’ve watched as the trite recitation of rejoice in your suffering eroded the faith that was all ready thin.
I’m happy for Joseph that he was in an Egyptian prison.
Prepare for Suffering, and Rejoice Always
If you are suffering today—take heart! Perhaps the first and last sentences of the passage will give you strength.
Although it sounds flippant, can I offer you this profound truth? If you define God using your circumstances, you will always be disappointed in God. If you define your circumstances using God’s truth, you will find peace.
If you are not suffering today—make the most of Joseph’s lesson. Just like the practice drills for CPR, “easy days” are the days to pre-prepare for suffering. Jesus gave the heads up to all His followers when He told them, you will have trouble.
If you are having an “easy day” look at the words associated with the believer’s suffering.
- Looking Forward
- Joyful and Rejoicing
- Strength of Character
- Confident Hope
- Not Disappointed
Those are powerful words, not shrinking, pitiful words. God would indeed be unjust, perhaps even unkind if suffering had no purpose. As a believer, you can rest assured that God is not simply squeezing you just to make you squirm. God has a plan to change you into the image of His Son, Jesus.
I don’t know about you, but I’m still in need of a lot of reshaping.
Joseph is blessed by God and suffering unjustly. As we read over the passages in Genesis, it takes just a few moments. For Joseph, it was years—years of grand success due to God’s blessing—years of dismal suffering due to God’s blessing.
You can’t define God in terms of your circumstance. Don’t wait until you’re in the pit of despair to try to figure out these verses in Romans 5. Don’t wait until you’re in pain. Don’t wait until the situation seems hopeless to convince yourself of the confident hope God offers.
Don’t believe this lie; If God really loved me, I’d have all the things I wanted and everything would be great.
Believe the truth of God’s blessing; When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners.
Father, thank you for Christ! Thank you for Your plan for my life—to make me like Christ. Thank You for sharing Your plan with me! Teach me when the pressure is light to learn about You—Your grace and love –so on days when the pressure is high, I can rest in knowing You are making me stronger. Help me be sensitive to those in pain—lavish Your grace on them.