This is the third installment of a blog series about why God allows Christians to face difficulties and trials. In a previous post we explored Scriptures that confirm, “Yes, Christians will have trouble!” (Read that post now.) Then we saw that God works in our trials to bring glory to Christ. In this and following posts we will continue to discover from the Bible four specific ways God uses our trials.

Children in Sunday School always learn about the biblical character Joseph. They often color drawings of Joseph sporting his “coat of many colors” given to him by his doting father. They hear about how much Joseph’s father loved him. But the story-telling about Joseph usually stops there.

The children aren’t told the less pleasant facts of Joseph’s life. Here’s what we find in the book of Genesis in a nutshell:

  • Joseph’s brothers hated him because of their father’s favoritism and Joseph’s boasting (Gen 37:4-5).
  • The majority of his brothers wanted to kill him (Gen 37:19-20).
  • Instead, they sold him into slavery where he was taken down to Egypt (Gen 37:28).
  • For decades, Joseph’s father believed he was dead (Gen 37:31-33).
  • The wife of Joseph’s Egyptian master falsely accused him of attempted rape and he was thrown into prison (Gen 39:16-20).
  • Innocent Joseph spent two years in prison, forgotten by someone he had helped (Gen 40:23).

Why don’t we tell our Sunday School children these parts of Joseph’s story? God’s plan for Joseph’s life is incomplete without these difficult trials. Each painful circumstance was another step along the path God had laid out for him. Hard as they were, God had purpose in all of it. Joseph recognized this great truth.

When Joseph’s father died, his brothers – fearful that Joseph would finally take his revenge against them – begged him for forgiveness. Joseph’s response reveals he saw God’s hand in his life.

But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”

Through all his trials, Joseph stood firm in his faith and depended on God. In the midst of them, he could not see years down the road and know what God would do. Joseph couldn’t know that he would be second in command of all of Egypt with all its resources at his disposal. He simply trusted that God was in control and was working out His purposes. And boy, did God ever have a tremendous purpose! He miraculously worked in Joseph’s circumstances to save His people and build a nation.

Is your life full of trial and difficulty? Trust God. He has a plan for your life. You may not see that today or even next year, but keep leaning on His everlasting arms.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  Jeremiah 29:11, NIV

How have you seen God use your pain and trials to further His greater purposes?

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