Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News
July 13, 2014
God can redeem and use our suffering
Victory over suffering begins with the conviction that God can
redeem and use our suffering. Many biblical stories highlight this truth. One
of the best is the account of Joseph’s suffering found in Genesis, the first
book of the Bible.
God redeemed and made sense of Joseph’s suffering. But God did
even more. He also redeemed the suffering of Joseph’s brothers and that of
their father Jacob.
Joseph’s brothers suffered for more than 20 long years the guilt
of getting rid of their arrogant brother. Every time they saw a pit of any
kind, they must have relived the sight of their helpless brother Joseph in the
pit where they had thrown him.
The brothers had done an evil thing – and they had gotten away
with it. No CSI team turned up evidence to expose their wickedness. For years
they must have been nervous when strangers came by their home; perhaps they had
come to inform Jacob of their evil deed.
Their sleep must have been interrupted countless nights. They
would wake up in a cold sweat, having heard in their dreams Joseph begging them
not to leave him to die in the pit. Guilt has a way of torturing us
relentlessly for our sins.
The sight of any young boy wearing a coat of many colors would
have triggered their guilt. Instantly they would see the anguish on the face of
their brother Joseph the last time they saw him. How they must have hated the
sight of any man wearing such a jacket.
When at last Joseph revealed his identity as their brother, the
brothers’ load of guilt turned instantly into fear. They thought, “We are dead
men now; our brother will take his revenge and kill us.”
To their amazement they found that revenge was not on Joseph’s mind.
Instead he offered them forgiveness, inviting them to see what Joseph saw – the
gracious hand of God at work, using their treacherous deed as a means of
blessing them and many others. Instead of justice, Joseph’s brothers
experienced the kindness of God.
The heavy weight of their guilt was removed, like a burden rolled
away by the power of God. Not only would their hungry families have food to eat
in years of famine, they were savoring as well the sweet taste of forgiveness.
After so many years of suffering for their sin, God had redeemed their
How Jacob must have suffered over the years, remembering the son
he had loved so dearly and mourning his tragic death. The death of a child
takes something out of a father. It is like a chunk of his heart being torn
out. He never gets over it though he manages somehow to go on with life. But
life is never the same. The heart-wrenching loss of one’s own flesh and blood
colors life with somber shades of realism.
Finally, after many long years of heartache, Jacob discovers that
his beloved son Joseph was not killed by wild animals. He is alive! And Joseph
is now in a position to provide for his entire family and spare them from years
of famine. Though Jacob must pack up and move once again, he will now be
blessed by the reunion of his family and their rescue from poverty.
All of this, Jacob realizes, has occurred because God had a plan
to use Joseph for the benefit of his entire family. God has redeemed Jacob’s
suffering by turning his sorrow into joy.
And what of Joseph’s suffering? His tears flowed for much more
than the emotional reunion with his brothers. Incredible joy swept his soul as
it dawned on him that God had a purpose for all Joseph’s suffering. Suddenly God
showed him that everything had happened for a reason. It was not his brothers
who had sent him to Egypt; God
had put him there! And God was now using Joseph “to preserve a remnant and to
keep many survivors alive.”
Joseph saw the purpose of his life as he gazed at his frightened
brothers. He realized the futility of revenge. He understood the beauty of
forgiveness. He saw God at work. He knew the unbelievable joy of knowing that
God was using his life to bless others. There is no greater joy!
Believe that a merciful God can redeem and use your suffering and
you are on the way to victory! + + +