By Not Known
Few lives are all up or all down. For most, life is a mix of ups and downs
It was like that for the Old Testament figure of Joseph. He was the great grandson of Abraham. His father played favourites with him. His brothers hated him (Gen 37: 3-4). He lorded it over them (Gen 37: 5- 11). They sold him into slavery in Egypt (Gen 27: 12- 36). He was a victim of sexual harassment from his boss’ wife (Gen 39). He became Prime Minister of Egypt. His sagacity lead to prosperity and respect and eventually lead to reunion with his father and brothers (Gen 41- 47).
When Joseph looked back on his ups and downs he could see God at work. ‘Yes‘, his brothers had meant to harm him (and he probably deserved it). But, God intended his good in all this suffering (Gen 50:20).
The Bible speaks of how God works everything for the good of his people (Rom 8: 28). This includes our suffering. Suffering is the means by which God forms our character (Rom 5: 3- 5). Our suffering is not capricious victimisation from sources of chaos or evil. Rather, it is the tender disciple of a loving heavenly father who is moulding us for our good (Heb 12: 7- 11).
Can you see that? Take a minute to think over the difficult times in your life. Many of us find that these are times of real growth, for suffering is the school of sanctification.
But wait, someone interjects. That’s easy for Joseph to say because he became Prime Minister. What if life is in tatters with a marriage collapsed, children alienated, health ruined, poverty reigning and career ended? How is that God working for good?
We don’t all get to be Prime Minister. for some, earthly life ends as the reverse of Joseph. He ended with an “up“. We may end with a “down“.
That is where our evening sermon passage comes in (Rev 21- 22). The Revelation was written to people with a big problem of big suffering. Because they resisted a powerful Roman Emperor, he persecuted them. Their earthly future was all unknown and uncertain. But, the Revelation holds out a big hope of heaven. This is the ultimate “up” of God keeping good his promise to work everything for our good. So, let us accept us and downs from God, knowing that he intends everything for good.