Christian Living

Spiritual Life

Suffering Transformed

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." Romans 8:28 NIV

We live in an often hostile world. We all experience suffering and disappointment, but God is in the business of using our difficulties and setbacks for our ultimate good.

Joseph dreamed he would be a leader, but after sharing his dream with his brothers, they seized Joseph and sold him into slavery. He was chosen to serve an Egyptian leader named Potiphar. Everything Joseph touched prospered, because the Lord was with him. After serving faithfully in Potiphar's house, Potiphar's wife – who was enthralled with young Joseph — tried to entice him and desired to sleep with the Hebrew slave, but he refused. The woman then falsely accused Joseph of making sexual advances toward her, and he was sentenced to prison.

Joseph remained in prison for some time, but God's hand was upon him even in that dark place. He was entrusted with the charge of the prisoners. The keeper of the prison committed them into his hands.

Thirteen years elapsed since his brothers betrayed him. Throughout this time, God silently worked in Joseph's heart. The Lord used suffering to forge godly character within him. Joseph was then given the opportunity of a lifetime. He was asked to interpret Pharaoh's dream. God gave Joseph the dream's meaning. He explained to Pharaoh that Egypt would experience seven years of plenty followed by seven years of famine. He wisely communicated to the ruler that an individual should be put in charge who would save grain during the years of abundance to be used during the time of scarcity. Pharaoh appointed Joseph as second in command of Egypt, and his God-given insight saved multitudes from starvation.

His brothers came to Egypt in search of food. Joseph met them and chose to forgive them. He viewed his suffering as part of God's overall plan. He said to his brothers,

“You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” Genesis 50:20 (NIV)

God transformed Joseph's suffering by his sovereign hand. And he works in our lives as well. When we place our pain and disappointments into the Father's hand, he eventually brings healing, victory, and promotion into our lives. As we stay faithful to God, he weaves his goodness into our lives and causes the days of our darkness to be eclipsed by the sun.

We do experience pain in this life, but in the midst of our suffering, God is there. The Lord calls us to forgive our oppressors, and he eventually elevates us out of our hardships and causes us to shine for him. His plan is to use us for his kingdom and for his glory. Let's choose faithfulness, let's embrace forgiveness, and let's offer all our emotional pain to Jesus. He loves us and he will transform our suffering into great glory. He will vindicate us and eventually cause us to prevail for his kingdom purposes.

Dear Sovereign Lord,
I worship you. I give you my sorrows – the hurtful things I don't understand. I give you my pain and ask you to transform my suffering into victory. Lord, have your way in me. Help me to be faithful, and help me to forgive those who have harmed me. I entrust myself in your care. In Jesus name, I pray, Amen.

Copyright © Tom Toya, used with permission.

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