Growing up ∙
Even though Jesus was God’s Son, he learned obedience from the things he suffered. – Hebrews 5:8
5 But don’t be upset, and don’t be angry with yourselves for selling me to this place. It was God who sent me here ahead of you to preserve your lives.
7 God has sent me ahead of you to keep you and your families alive and to preserve many survivors.
8 So it was God who sent me here, not you! And he is the one who made me an adviser to Pharaoh – the manager of his entire palace and the governor of all Egypt.
Sadly, our fallen world is filled with disappointment, suffering, ill-treatment, and betrayal. From an earthly viewpoint, all these things are horrific and need to be corrected if at all possible.
The Father has no desire to see people harmed. He knows full well that tribulation is part of life on planet Earth. Rather than put an end to it, He uses the hardships of life to mature children of the King. Suffering is one of the tools He employs to facilitate spiritual maturity, growth, character, and willing submission to the Father.
“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved” – (Helen Keller).
The life of Joseph had many disappointments, deceptions, and betrayals. His own brothers wanted to kill him. They betrayed him and sold him into slavery. He wound up in Egypt as a house slave of Potiphar. Because of his God-given natural talents and abilities, Joseph excelled. But Joseph was falsely accused, betrayed again, and ultimately landed in prison. It seemed as though all was lost and he would become another forgotten prisoner.
Did he become angry, bitter, or hateful? Was he overcome by resentment seeking revenge? Definitely not. Rather the Father used these difficult decades, to transform Joseph into a new person. He grew to maturity and became wise. The Father child-trained him. As a result, godly character and integrity were added to his natural brilliance and organizational skills. But he remained a prisoner until the day that the Father had appointed for him to be set free.
The Father had a plan all along, but it was only at the time of Egypt’s greatest need, that Joseph was called upon to rise to the occasion and solve the dire problems the nation faced. Famine was coming, and with it would come certain death from starvation. But the Father provided Joseph with a plan and it proved to be successful beyond anyone’s wildest imagination.
One day Joseph was a filthy prisoner, a slave in tattered rags. The next day he was the Prime Minister of Egypt, second in power and authority only to Pharaoh himself. Not only was Egypt saved from the horrors of famine and death, but abundant reserves of grain and other necessities were safely stored away.
Eventually, Joseph’s own brothers came to Egypt to try to purchase grain so that they and their families would not die. Joseph did not reveal his true identity to them when they arrived. He no longer looked like a Hebrew, but rather had the aspect and manner of a powerful Egyptian official, and of course, spoke fluent Egyptian.
Joseph’s arrogant pride and boastfulness were broken. His heart was now characterized by wisdom, gentleness, grace, and forgiveness. He wanted to find out if the Father had changed the hearts of his brothers as well. Indeed, the Father had been at work in their hearts during the period of separation. They too were new men.
1 Joseph could stand it no longer. There were many people in the room, and he said to his attendants, “Out, all of you!” So he was alone with his brothers when he told them who he was.
2 Then he broke down and wept. He wept so loudly the Egyptians could hear him, and word of it quickly carried to Pharaoh’s palace.
3 “I am Joseph!” he said to his brothers. “Is my father still alive?” But his brothers were speechless! They were stunned to realize that Joseph was standing there in front of them.
4 “Please, come closer,” he said to them. So they came closer. And he said again, “I am Joseph, your brother, whom you sold into slavery in Egypt.
REFLECT & PRAY
The Lord Jesus Christ is the God-man. He lived a sinless life learning obedience through what He suffered. He was always obedient and submissive. He came to know firsthand the cost of being obedient in the midst of suffering. He “increased in wisdom and stature” (Luke 2:52).
Father thank You it is true, but whom the Lord loves, He also disciplines, for our good. You seek to produce in us the peaceable fruit of righteousness.
Difficult times prune away the deadwood in our lives. The dross needs to be addressed and handled to conform us into the image of the Lord Jesus Christ. Hard times are part of the Father’s training for each child of the King.
10 For our earthly fathers disciplined us for a few years, doing the best they knew how. But God’s discipline is always good for us, so that we might share in his holiness.
11 No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening – it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way.
The Father uses disappointment and suffering to develop character and maturity. This was true even for the Son of God Himself, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Hebrews 5:8 Even though Jesus was God’s Son, he learned obedience from the things he suffered.
“Pain is inevitable; sorrow is optional” (Stanley). How we respond to physical and emotional pain is a choice for every child of the King. “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom” (Viktor Frankl).
“Someone once said to a sufferer: ‘Suffering colors life, doesn’t it?’ The sufferer replied: ‘Yes, but I propose to choose the color.’ The Christian is the athlete of God whose spiritual muscles become stronger from the discipline of difﬁculties” (Barclay).
The canvas of our lives contains all of our life experiences. Through our relationship with the Father or lack thereof, we play a part in the textures and colors that are added to it. It can be dull, drab, boring, or depressing. Or it can be bright, cheerful, upbeat, and filled with hope, that is, confident expectation.
“When trials hit, we can always be sure that God will come to our aid. Why? (1) It’s His nature – “He is ‘the Father of mercies’ and the ‘God of all comfort.’ (2) He’s training us to comfort others” (Stanley).
And so it was with Joseph!
Genesis 50:20 You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people.
This is the Father’s purpose for every child of the King. Our model is the Lord Jesus Christ. In the incarnation, He became the God-man. He was fully divine and also fully human. He was always without sin as He learned obedience in real life. He was committed to submissive obedience and “increased in wisdom and stature” (Luke 2:40, 52). Total submission was required to face and endure the events of Gethsemane and Golgotha. Through great suffering, the Lord Jesus Christ continued to obey.