“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.”
–Genesis 45-5

Have you ever wondered why you’ve had to face so much trouble in your life? I have, and I’d like to share some words of encouragement with you. If you haven’t read the story of Joseph in chapters 37-50 of Genesis, you may want to do so now, because I’ll be referring to it often here.

Maybe you’re going through a hard time right now. Perhaps you’re facing unemployment, death, or some kind of illness. But through the blackness you may be experiencing, God has sent me to encourage you and let you know that He is still in control. The story of Joseph is a prime example of this. Let me share three principles with you that this story contains: test, trust, and triumph.

In school, all of us had pop quizzes that we had no way to prepare for ahead of time. Life is much the same; it often throws little (or big) surprises at us. Joseph had some great times in his life, but he was also sold into slavery and thrown into prison when he had done nothing wrong. Without God, Joseph would have lived a yo-yo existance, thanks to all his Trials.

We have all faced ups and downs in our lives, and if we’re honest, most of us (including myself) ask where God is during the tough times. I have good news for you though, my friend: He is right there with you, no matter what happens. Jesus said that he would never leave us or forsake us. It is up to us to keep him number 1 in our lives, in spite of our circumstances. In order to do this, pray about every situation you face, asking God for wisdom. Search the scriptures, looking for God’s will. Finally, go to your elders or pastor if you have an unresolved question.

In order to trust God, you must take the knowledge of His goodness with you for the long haul. I picture trust as hanging onto a lifeline. My wife reminded me of a quote by Thomas Jefferson: “When you come to the end of your rope, tie a knot in it and hang on.” For Christians, tying a knot means putting everything into God’s hands, and trusting Him for the final outcome. This is easier said than done, and at times we may feel like we’re falling away from Him. But behind the scenes, God is working in every situation. Knowing that God is loving and faithful helps us to trust in Him. Like a wise parent who looks ahead, God has our best interests at heart.

Many times, the things that we think we need aren’t the best things for us. I’m sure that Joseph experienced times when he asked God why he had to go through the fires he faced, but the story shows how God prepared Joseph for what he would go through. He is also preparing you and me for the hard times ahead of us. No matter how bleak circumstances may appear, God is using them to challenge us to hang on to Him.

Triumph refers to good times, which are something we all like. But perhaps they are the hardest times to face, upon reflection. Joseph was remarkably close to God after getting promoted, but if you contrast his life with that of the children of Israel, you will see that this closeness during prosperous times is not always the case. In times of prosperity, the Israelites drifted away from God. Like a magnet, prosperity can subtlely draws us into self-reliance, and we may come to believe that we no longer have a hunger or a need for God or His guidance.

Life has handed many of us prosperity, but even during these times, you and I need to make sure that God is our first priority, instead of relying on material assets. When everything is going great for you, be careful to rely on God instead of all the material things around you.

I see the life of Joseph as a challenge to all of us, and I hope you will do the same. Whatever path God has led you down, like Joseph, you can know that your suffering isn’t for you alone. I’ve found this out in my hospital chaplaincy, for many times I can relate to my patients’ suffering, hopefully being an encouragement. No matter where you work, that can be true for you as well. If you know Christ and make him Lord of everything you go through, you will be surprised at how he can use you, helping to preserve the lives of others.

Thank you for reading this, and may the Lord give you a wonderful week! We are trying to reach people who are hurting, so if God lays it on your heart, please consider becoming a partner with us. If you would like to make a donation, please send it to HCMA (Healthcare Chaplains Ministry Association). Our ID number is 560. The address is 377 E. Chapman Ave., Suite 260, Placentia, CA 92870.
To find out more about HCMA, visit them at www.hcmachaplains.org.

If you have questions, comments or prayer requests for Timothy or Stephanie Burdick, please call 641-715-3900, ext. 874157.