Sitting in a prison in a foreign country, the young man could not believe life had turned out this way. This was not his country; these were not his people; his own family had no idea he was here and as a slave he had no way to let them know he needed help.
He did not have a good childhood. While his parents loved him deeply, his older brothers demonstrated how much they despised and hated him on a regular basis. One day, when they were especially angry with him, they cast him into the world of human trafficking. The foreigner who bought him was pleased with his purchase – until the master’s wife accused (falsely) the new slave of raping her – at which point he was thrown, without trial, into prison.
He had always loved God and done his best to point people to Him. Even in prison, he served his God by using the gifts he had been given to assist another prisoner – who totally forgot the young man once he himself was released.
Suffering as a slave in a foreign country – this was not the way he had envisioned life to be. He had done nothing wrong. In fact, he had been a faithful servant to his God. And yet here he was. Interestingly, however, a few years later he would declare, “God has made me fruitful in the land of my suffering.”
The young man’s name was Joseph and his story is told in Genesis 37-50. This Sunday in a sermon I have entitled, “Fruitful Suffering”, we will consider just how Joseph was able to not just survive decades of suffering but to be victorious and fruitful in the midst of it. It had less to do with alleviating circumstances and much more to do with the “Transformation of the Heart: A Change from the Inside.”
In preparation for our time of study this Sunday, let me encourage you to read the following verses:
- Genesis 37-50 – the entire story of Joseph; it is an intriguing read (skip chapter 38 – that is a side story about one of his errant brothers)
- Genesis 41:52 – “God has made me fruitful in the land of my suffering”
- Genesis 45:5 – Joseph asserts that God had the bigger picture
- Genesis 45:8 – Joseph is able to forgive his brothers because he understands that God could have prevented him from being sold into slavery; it was Him, not them
- Genesis 50:20 – his brothers still are afraid so Joseph assures them that what they had intended for evil, God had intended for good
- 2 Corinthian 1:8-11 – the greatest gift in suffering is learning to rely on God
- 1 Peter 3:1-6 – how to have a calm spirit in the midst of hard times; it’s not just for women
Last Sunday service was animated and alive. I hope to participate in the same full house excitement with you this Sunday at 9:00am or 10:45am. See ya in church!