Summary: You have been told you should have hope . . . why? Your trial, heartache & pain make you the exception, don’t they? They would, but you are coated!
Pt. 1 - Favorites
We have spent 4 weeks trying to expose the dangers of hopelessness (see series titled "Heart Attacks" while hoping that some of us who have given up would identify hidden hopelessness in your own life. Some of us have walked around for a long time acting like we have courage, faith, and the truth is we threw the towel in a long time ago. Hopelessness is dangerous but it is also deceitful. Why do I say it is deceitful? Because if we are consumed by hopelessness, then we have believed a lie. Paul tells us we should be overflowing with hope! Why? With what I am facing why should I be filled with hope? If Paul knew my story, then he would surely say I am the exception to this overflowing. He would have written it like this . . . everyone should overflow with hope except __________. Lie. Deceived. We should all be full of hope. Why? I want to, in the course of this series, remind you that you should have hope because you are coated.
I know it is a familiar passage. Our familiarity causes us to overlook, underestimate, and often dismiss important information that we need to embrace as truth!
Genesis 37:2-4 This is the story of Jacob. The story continues with Joseph, seventeen years old at the time, helping out his brothers in herding the flocks. These were his half brothers actually, the sons of his father’s wives Bilhah and Zilpah. And Joseph brought his father bad reports on them. Israel loved Joseph more than any of his other sons because he was the child of his old age. And he made him an elaborately embroidered coat. When his brothers realized that their father loved him more than them, they grew to hate him—they wouldn’t even speak to him.
You know this account. You also know the rest of this story. In a jealous fit Joseph's brothers throw him into a pit (isolation) (those who have no hope will hate your hope) and then they sell him into slavery (poverty). Joseph is forgotten. Lied on and thrown into prison. Promoted by the warden. Forgotten again. 2 more years of jail living and finally remembered. However, if you go and read the account he never loses hope in any of those situations. Why? How did he continue to rise to the top? He was coated.
Go back to the beginning and we discover that Joseph was . . .
1. Coated with preference.
As a parent I recognize the danger of favoritism. Certainly Jacob, of all parents after his own childhood was destroyed by it, should have known that it would cause issues. However, right or wrong, appropriate or not Jacob coated Joseph with favor because he was his favorite. He preferred him above his brothers. What is favor? A working definition is . . . preferential treatment you don't deserve. Joseph hadn't done anything to deserve preference. In fact, he was a tattle tale! Our first introduction to him is in this account and he tattles on his half brothers. So he didn't earn favor. He was apparently a bit of a brat. He was favored because of who his mother happened to be and the stage of life his father was in when he was born (in Jacob's old age). How many of you know that he didn't get to choose his mother or the timing of his birth? He was simply favored with undeserved/unwarranted/unearned preference.
May I remind you that our story parallels Joseph? You have done nothing to deserve or to earn it and yet you are coated by preference. Like Mary, who heard from the angel you are chosen and highly favored, you have done nothing to earn it or deserve it. In fact, like Joseph you have been a bit of a brat. There are parts of your story that you would think would disqualify you from preference. However, that doesn't change the fact that your Father has selected you. He has hand picked you out of a lineup of the most unlikely, and He prefers you! That is so difficult for some us to believe.
Listen some of you wouldn't still be standing if it wasn't for the fact that He prefers you. You would already be dead. You would have already laid down destroyed. You would have already been broken beyond repair. You would have already gone down for the last time except for one reason . . . You are coated with preference. The reason you keep snatching victory out of defeat. The reason you keep getting back up. The reason you keep overcoming. The reason you keep rolling out of bed . . . One reason and one reason only . . . Preference. Just like Joseph's coat was a visible reminder of preference there is visible proof of God's preference on your life. It is visible because what should have stopped you didn't. What should have sidelined you only slowed you down for a season. What should have crippled you only catapulted you to greatness. You are coated.