Don’t you sometimes wish that life had an easy button? I know I do. For example, the other morning it had been a few days since I had any decent exercise, so I had decided I would run. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy.
I hadn’t been eating right and I’d been slacking on my running, so unfortunately I kept putting it off. Finally I forced myself out the door for my run. Although difficult, afterwards it felt great and had wondered why I kept putting it off in the first place.
I’ve decided that nothing worthwhile in life is ever easy, but some days . . . I just wish life had an easy button. So often when we are faced with difficult circumstances it is easy for us to run away, verses running to God. We question God’s goodness instead of trusting it.
There are various reasons we suffer in this world, but through it all, God is trying to teach us a lesson in perseverance. Just as running increases my physical endurance, trials and difficulties in life increase spiritual endurance.
I was recently re-reading the story of Joseph in preparation for teaching a Kid’s Church lesson. I love how God uses me teaching kids, to teach or reinforce something in my own life (He’s just so awesome that way).
I’ve heard Joseph’s story hundreds of times, but God always seems to show me something different each time. My lesson was supposed to be a lesson on forgiveness, but instead once again, God was using it to show me a lesson on perseverance.
Now Joseph was no saint. He was youngest of his brothers and favorite son of his father (now if that wouldn’t zap a little pride into you right there). To top it off, daddy had made him a “special” coat. I’m sure to his brothers, it was a constant reminder that Joseph was dad’s favorite child.
Joseph had also been given a special gift from God (the ability to interpret dreams). When Joseph decided to use his gift inappropriately (to brag), this again caused some major conflict with his already resentful brothers.
It’s no wonder they threw him into a pit. I’m sure I would have wanted to do the same. Instead of leaving him to there to die, they decided to sell him into slavery. To cover it all up, they then decided to lie to their father claiming he was killed by an animal. Wow, talk about a heavy load of anger and hatred from his brothers. They wanted him gone from their lives, and carried out an evil plan to do just that.
During the time of separation from his family, God was working tremendously in Josephs life. I’m assuming that none of this was easy for Joseph, but instead of resisting God’s plan, Joseph kept trusting God (knowing that God was with Him) and faithfully turning to Him.
God was teaching Joseph a lesson in perseverance. He was using heat, pressure and time to refine Josephs character. Joseph had to be broken in order to be used of God.
God does the same thing with us today. When we submit ourselves to him, He takes all of our weaknesses, flaws and mistakes and can bring good from them, just as he did with Joseph.
Joseph realized that the dream he had shared with his brothers (some thirteen years earlier) was finally coming to fruition. He realized that God had used his trials and suffering to strengthen him. This helped him to forgive his brothers and understand how much he needed to do so because of the same forgiveness he had received from God.
After testing his brothers motives, Joseph also understood how God had used this situation to change their hearts as well. He was therefore able to show God’s love and mercy to them because he now understood God’s sovereignty over all things.
There will always be times in our lives when we all want to push the easy button, but if we do so, I believe we miss out on a lesson that God is trying to teach us through perseverance. Perseverance requires that we stick with something even when it is difficult. It’s a determined attitude to trust God in all circumstances (especially extremely difficult ones).
God had a purpose all along, and Joseph was able to see it come to fulfillment. Through suffering, God had worked in Joseph’s life and in his brothers hearts as well. God plan was fulfilled when he used Joseph life to carry out His ultimate plan of saving them from famine through the interpretation of Pharaoh’s dream. When Joseph used his gift for God’s glory, many lives were saved because of it. What an awesome God we serve!
Father God thank you for who you are and for all you do for us. Help us to trust you in all circumstances no matter how difficult, hard or painful they may seem. Thank you that you are indeed Sovereign and that you are working all things together for our good. Help us to keep our eyes fixed on you so that we may persevere in difficulties! Thank you Jesus. To you be the glory both now and forever! AMEN
And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. Romans 5:3-5
And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. Romans 8:28
Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him. James 1:12