Devotional & Reflection

Week 2, September 2004

Gen 41 :

By Pang Hee Hung, Katartizo Resources Ltd

Gen 41:1 When two full years had passed, Pharaoh had a dream . . . 41:14 So Pharaoh sent for Joseph, and he was quickly brought from the dungeon. When he had shaved and changed his clothes, he came before Pharaoh. 41:15 Pharaoh said to Joseph, "I had a dream, and no one can interpret it. But I have heard it said of you that when you hear a dream you can interpret it." 41:16 "I cannot do it," Joseph replied to Pharaoh, "but God will give Pharaoh the answer he desires."

Have we not wondered what God is up to when we are suffering? Or when we are imprisoned like Joseph in our troubles, ill-fortune and sickness? Or when we lack clear direction or suffer loss?

For Joseph, life must have been difficult over the last 13 years or so. From being a favorite son of Jacob, he was reduced to a slave at the age of 17 (Gen 37:2). Only when he was 30 years old did Joseph rose to serve the Pharaoh (Gen 41:46). In the 13 years or so of his young adulthood, he was thrown in the pit, sold as slave, falsely accused of attempted rape, imprisoned and forgotten. Just when Joseph thought the cupbearer would remember him and give him hope of getting out of the prison – he was forgotten for another two long years.

Imagine if these successive blows were to come at us over 13 long years. We would probably question God, “Is there a reason for all these problems and testing?” We would probably not know exactly why until we meet Him. Meanwhile, the difficulties in life can build us or break us. We can learn something from Joseph. Perhaps, the trials in our lives are meant to make us better, not bitter. They are meant to build us, not break us.

Paul tells us in:
Rom 5:3 "We also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produce perseverance;
Rom 5:4 perseverance, character; and character, hope.
Rom 5:5 And hope does not disappoint us"

From these verses, we learn that God is up to something when we suffer. A big part of suffering and testing is to help us develop our character, so that we would be mature, lacking nothing, and having faith, hope and perseverance. And perseverance is developed usually under only trying circumstances.

Joseph persevered under the temptations of Potiphar's wife – knowing that he cannot be disrespectful, and yet cannot fall into sin. He was walking a tightrope, keeping this balance. But when he was put to the ultimate test, he stood the righteous ground even though the temptress pulled his cloak. He then had to persevere through false accusation and imprisonment without being vengeful. He was suffering for being righteous.

What if we were put in a situation whereby we would suffer if we remained faithful to God? Would we remain faithful like Joseph did? Or would we compromise? When we are suffering, remind ourselves that God is up to something in our character formation.

Why were Joseph's brothers so annoyed with him that they could even think of murdering him? Was Joseph young and impulsive, or perhaps impudent? Sometimes, suffering is allowed so that we are pruned of our fleshly ways (John 15:2), so that we can be more fruitful. In the end, Joseph was fruitful. And Joseph named his second son Ephraim because "God had made me fruitful in the land of my suffering" (Gen 41:52). Yes, God is up to something fruitful in our suffering.

1. What are the good things we had done but no one remembers?
2. How would you like it to be remembered?
3. What has suffering produced in us?
4. What does this tell us about God?

When We Are Suffering,
God Is Up To Something

Copyright By Author