Published October 2, 2014
Genesis 37:19-27; 39:1-2
Bible Studies for Life, Oct. 19, 2014
Sometimes life stinks. Sometimes people let you down. Almost always we cry out to God in our pain – where are you? Have you let me down as well? Why did you let this happen?
The truth is that God has not abandoned you, and if you could see with the eyes of God, He is in the pit with you. But the human reality is that many feel betrayed and abandoned, and even more so there are those who choose to believe that God somehow caused this tragedy to fall upon them.
Does God cause the pain? - Genesis 37:19-24
So this question begs an answer first: Did God orchestrate the evil that has come upon you? No, but through free will He did allow Adam and Eve to choose evil over righteousness in the Garden. And in this story He allowed the brothers to choose evil over righteousness, which sent Joseph to the pit and on into slavery.
If someone chooses righteous actions or reactions over evil ones, are the outcomes always positive? Why or why not?
Throughout history God has allowed humanity to choose evil over righteousness, which has caused unspeakable pain and destruction, and it very well might be the current cause of your discontent.
God did not cause the pain, but He does give all of us choices in our response to the pain. Decisions always have consequences. Often consequences affect others, but always they affect the decision makers.
God’s plan through pain - Genesis: 37:25-27
When Joseph was facing the wrath of angry brothers, do you think he fully understood that God would spare his life, send him to be a slave, and then on to become one of the most influential men in the world? No, he was a frightened boy facing complete uncertainty. God, though, did have a plan. His plan was then and now the same.
Deuteronomy 31:6 says, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” This is an often-repeated promise in Scripture: God is with us.
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For instance, you will find that same promise in Joshua 1:5, Hebrews 13:6, 1 Peter 5:7, and Matthew 28:20, just to name a few. That is God’s plan through the pain – to be with us.
A favorite New Testament story finds Jesus asleep in a boat when a furious squall erupts. The disciples are sailing the boat and fighting the seas and they become overwhelmed fearing for their lives.
They awaken Jesus, saying, “Master do you not care? We are about to die.” So Jesus takes charge and addresses the storm, much like calming a child. He says, “Silence, be still,” (Mark 4:39 NIV).
The winds and the seas calmed and he turned to the disciples and asked in verse 40, “Why are you fearful? Do you still have no faith?” Jesus got into that boat that day fully aware a storm was going to strike, and in the same manner God was in the pit with a terrified boy named Joseph.
Jesus never abandoned the disciples to their storm, and God never left the side of Joseph. So in your situation, whatever it is you can rest assured that God is in it with you. He promised so.
This is His plan – to be with us throughout the storm. Sometimes God calms the seas, sometimes He doesn’t, but never fear for He is with us in the storm.
Reaction to the pain - Genesis 39:1-2
Joseph found himself in a horrible traumatic family tragedy. This is a story of how far and fast evil can overwhelm and destroy a family, leaving pain and suffering littered everywhere.
Joseph could have simply spent the rest of his life broken and bitter because of the evil brought upon him by his brothers. He was no longer the loved child who owned a coat of many colors. With the brothers’ decision, they took that life away from him, so he had the option of bitterness, resentment, and hate.
Many people in similar situations choose that option. When life stinks and people let you down sometimes people choose to use those occasions to become bitter, malcontent, and carry a simmering anger and mistrust of everyone. They choose to be controlled by events carried out by others, but this is not how Joseph reacted.
Through faith in God he pulled himself together, and through events that I believe God somehow orchestrated found himself a slave in Potiphar’s house, who was a highly ranked Egyptian guard to the Pharaoh.
In Genesis 39:2 the Bible says, “The Lord was with Joseph and he became a successful man.” This means that Joseph placed his faith in God who was with him in the pit, and he chose to react to the evil brought upon him with righteousness. He was no longer a highly favored son, but a slave, and he decided to be the best slave that he could be.
He would do the right things in this new situation, and God honored that. Joseph became a successful man through horrible and traumatic events brought upon him by others. Joseph’s life changed, but it didn’t end in the pit.
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