Have you ever thought about being molded by God? Have you ever considered how the outcome of trials and sufferings mold us into vessels that God can use? Isaiah 64:8 states, “But now, O LORD, you are our Father; we are the clay, and You are our potter; we are all the work of Your hand.” God uses experiences and imperfect people to shape us into vessels of honor. For example, a potter kneads the clay to get the air pockets out. He then forms the clay ball into a desired vessel by pinching it into the shape he wants. Next, he puts it into a hot kiln for many hours. In the same way, God uses trying circumstances and imperfect people to shape us and to make us more like Christ. No one will say they like suffering but when we keep our eyes on Jesus and trust Him, He will strongly support us. Sometimes though, we cause our own suffering because of our own wrong choices, even so, God can still use it for good if we allow Him to. For example, if you tell your boss off and you lose your job, well, that suffering could have been avoided. Even so, God can mold you into a more patient person.
Rom 8:28, 29a states, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 29) For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son,…”
One of my favorite stories on suffering well and God’s response is the story of Joseph in Genesis, chapters 37-50. Joseph had an understanding of the eternal perspective of God’s plan and purpose. I encourage you to read this whole story. The following is a very short overview of his story and some reflective questions. As you read, imagine if you were him.
Joseph was the second youngest in a family of 12 sons. His brothers were jealous of him because their father favored him. His brothers dislike him even more when he told them about dreams he had and how they were bowing down to him. After some time had past, his father sent him to check on his brothers in the fields. They desired to kill him but one of the brothers, who had compassion, convinced them to put him in a dry well instead. He suggested this because he wanted to get him out later and send him away to safety. When a band of Egyptian traders came along, the other brothers sold him to be a slave.
?? How do you think Joseph must have felt, not knowing what will happen to him or if he would ever see his family again? How would you feel if you were him?
Joseph behaved well and accept his fate and God blessed him by causing everyone to give him favor. His first owner made him head over his entire household. In the meantime, his owner’s wife wanted Joseph to sleep with her. But he refused because of his faith in, and fear of, God. One day, she grabbed his coat as he fled and she then lied to her husband and said that Joseph tried to rape her. As a result, his owner sent him to jail. Once again, Joseph behaved well, even when suffering an injustice, so God gave him favor with the head jailer. Then God provided an opportunity for Joseph to interpret the dreams for two of Pharaoh’s servants. He then asked them to remember him to Pharaoh when they got out of prison so he could get out too. But, the servants forgot Joseph.
?? Did Joseph have the right to be bitter, resentful, and angry at his brothers or the servants who forgot him, or his master’s wife who lied? Would you have if you were Joseph?
?? Is there a situation in your life that you are bitter and resentful about? If you answered yes, then please visit my website, hopeforcompletehealing.com, to learn how to work through the issues that have caused you to be resentful.
One day, Pharaoh had a dream which no one could interpret. One of his servants remembered that Joseph had interpreted his dream in prison and told Pharaoh, who then sent for Joseph. Joseph interpreted the dream which was about seven years of abundant crops followed by a seven-year famine. God caused Pharaoh to make Joseph second in command of Egypt to prepare for the seven years of famine. Now that is a promotion. During the famine, Joseph’s brothers come to Egypt to buy food for their families. They did not recognize Joseph, but he recognized them as they were bowing before him. Remember his dreams? Not only did Joseph give them food, but he also gave their money back, by putting it into the grain bags. He forgave them and blessed them.
?? Did Joseph have the right to be prideful and rub his success in his brother’s faces instead of blessing them? Would you have?
?? Is there someone who has humiliated, dishonored, or wronged you and you are still struggling with the painful memory and offense? Again, I encourage you to visit my website to help you overcome these painful memories.
Genesis 50:20 records Josephs confession to his brothers, “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.” What a fabulous attitude. I want to have that same attitude, how about you? Please read the rest of the story in Genesis to see how he saved his family and the nation of Israel.
?? How will the choices you make affect the outcome of your life or the lives of others?
The following is an example in the Apostle Peter’s life:
Luke 22:31-32 Jesus said, “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you , that he might sift you like wheat, 32) but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.”
Remember, Jesus is also interceding for each of us (see Romans 8:34) that our faith does not fail. Therefore, one of the purposes of going through trials and sufferings is to encourage and strengthen others when they are in the same or similar trial. See my blog on “7 ways to suffer well.”