The Book of Genesis contains an incredible story of the faithfulness of God. Joseph, who is hated by his brothers, is cast into a well and later picked up by Midian slave traders. He is sold to Potiphar in the Pharaoh of Egypt’s service and spends many years in great trials.
Back at home, Joseph’s father; Jacob, is told by the brothers who threw him into the well, that Joseph is dead; killed by a wild beast. Immediately Jacob begins to accept the worst and grieve for his son.
So they took Joseph’s tunic, killed a kid of the goats, and dipped the tunic in the blood. Then they sent the tunic of many colors, and they brought it to their father and said, “We have found this. Do you know whether it is your son’s tunic or not?” And he recognized it and said, “It is my son’s tunic. A wild beast has devoured him. Without doubt Joseph is torn to pieces.” Then Jacob tore his clothes, put sackcloth on his waist, and mourned for his son many days. —Genesis 37:34
Years before, Jacob had been overcome with grief by a similar set of circumstance where his brother Esau is coming to meet him. Jacob believes the worst and is filled with fear and distress.
Then the messengers returned to Jacob, saying, “We came to your brother Esau, and he also is coming to meet you, and four hundred men are with him.” So Jacob was greatly afraid and distressed; and he divided the people that were with him, and the flocks and herds and camels, into two companies. And he said, “If Esau comes to the one company and attacks it, then the other company which is left will escape.” —Genesis 32:6-8
After Jacob hears the report from his son’s that Joseph has been killed, he spends 20 years grieving and in distress. Jacob believed that everything was against him—because of the many difficult trials he had experienced.
And Jacob their father said to them, “You have bereaved me: Joseph is no more… All these things are against me.” —Genesis 42:36
In reality, all of the difficulties and heartaches of Joseph’s life, were working towards a good purpose. God had a long term plan that included great blessing. Jacob was so focussed on his problems that he forgot the Great God whom he served.
And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. —Romans 8:28
Although Jacob was going through terrible difficulties that tore and bruised his heart, this does not mean that the Lord caused these things to happen. As long as we live in this world, bad things will happen to us. We live in a world that is broken and far from God. Our bodies become sick and they die. The Lord already has a plan in effect where He will eliminate all suffering, sickness, and death. By Jesus death and resurrection for us, God has secured a life of eternal duration in which no one that we love will ever become sick or die again. Someday, very soon; the Lord will return to earth—after He has given sufficient time for all those who will receive Jesus—the opportunity to believe and be saved. At that time, this present world and all of its suffering, will end.
At the end of the story, we find Joseph in Egypt—second in command of the entire nation. The world has been under a terrible famine and people are dying all over the planet. God had taken Joseph from the prison where he was sent and made him the chief advisor to Pharaoh. God told Joseph that there would be seven years of abundance and then seven years of famine. Joseph told Pharaoh that he should appoint someone to oversee the storage of grain, for the coming seven years of abundance. When Pharaoh heard the wisdom of Joseph, he appointed him as the one man who would oversee all the events of these coming years.
Back home, Jacob and his son’s are starving. There is no food in the land. Jacob sends his son’s to Egypt, where he has heard that there is a tremendous amount of grain that could be purchased. As Joseph’s brothers come into the Pharaoh’s palace to request grain that will save their family, they meet Joseph. The brother’s are terrified that the brother whom they sought to harm, now has the power to take their lives. Instead of using the great power that Joseph has—to harm his brothers, he uses it to save their lives.
Then his brothers also went and fell down before his face, and they said, “Behold, we are your servants.” Joseph said to them, “Do not be afraid, for am I in the place of God? But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive. Now therefore, do not be afraid; I will provide for you and your little ones.” And he comforted them and spoke kindly to them. —Genesis 50:18-21
All of Jacob’s fears and despair was for nothing. All along, God had a plan in action that had not only saved Joseph’s life—but prospered it. The Lord was looking ahead to an end that was Good. Along the way, there were many trials and times of difficulty and uncertainty. In all these things, the love of God was working to exact an outcome that would be of tremendous blessing to Jacob, Joseph, and all of the brother’s who had hated him.
In the same way, Jesus came to earth; sent here by His Father. He came to give His life for us, but evil men arrested Him and made certain that He was put to death. Even when Jesus was being nailed to the cross, He cried out to the Father and asked forgiveness for the men who were torturing Him. Jesus said: “they don’t know what they are doing…”
We will all suffer. We will all die. We will all see our loved one’s become sick. Sometimes, people we love will die. Our children may undergo terrible difficulties with their heath and we will have to watch them suffer and feel helpless to ease their suffering. We must remember that in all of these moments, we have a very loving Father who sees what we are going through and He working in these situations, even though we may not presently see what He is doing.
Rather than give-in to our fears and become filled with despair, let us trust the Lord and believe in His goodness. In time, we will see what His plan is and know that all along He was working all things together for Good.
Understanding why the Lord often waits during our trials: