Summary: Post September 11th attack
"GOD INTENDED IT FOR GOOD"
"But Joseph said to them, don’t be afraid, Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended for good, to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives."
1. What is suffering? Suffering covers a broad spectrum of
experiences and has a multitude of faces.
- Definition: "Suffering is to endure loss, to feel pain
and distress, to sustain injury. It may involve physical,
emotional or spiritual distress. It is cyclical and all
2. What about the problem of personal suffering? Each of us has
to answer the question, "Why does God allow me to suffer?"
This question is one that I had to answer in a very gut-level
way. I hope the answer I found will help you.
3. This last Tuesday, America was stunned to wake up to our television and radio
stations telling us of the horrific news that two American airliners had crashed into
the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York City. We watched with shock and horror as the television footage of the crashes was replayed over and over
again. Just when we thought that the worst was over, both buildings imploded and
crumbled to the ground. News commentators informed us that as many as 50,000
people may have been present in those buildings and that it is estimated that as
many as 30,000 people were killed in the blast.
4. Many of us have sat glued to our televisions sets staring in disbelief. We have felt
shocked, then numbed and finally angry and vindictive – demanding justice and
retaliation. This morning our nation cries out “To God, Why?” “Why have you
allowed this terrible tragedy to occur.”
Christian, I do not pretend to understand why God has allowed us to experience
such a great and devastating loss, but I have learned this about suffering from the
life of Joseph: God intends it for good. Notice, I did not say that suffering is
good, or that God initiates suffering ( I suspect that evil people filled with hate are
behind much of our suffering), but I do believe that God redeems good out of the
suffering we experience.
INTERROGATIVE: How does God redeem good out of our suffering?
If we examine each aspect in the phrase Joseph used, "God
intended it for good", we will discover three ways God
redeemed value from Joseph’s suffering:
1) "GOD" -Suffering is Centered in God.
2) "INTENDED IT" - Suffering Has Purpose.
3) "FOR GOOD" -Suffering Results in Our Good.
I. "GOD" - SUFFERING IS CENTERED IN GOD
A. Where was God in Joseph’s Suffering.
1. We pick up Joseph’s story in Gen. 37.
Cannot help but immediately notice that God’s hand
is resting on Joseph’s life. He experienced two
dreams which God used to speak to him about the
future of his life although his family failed to
recognize it. His older brothers simply grew more
and more jealous of the dreamer and finally sold him
into slavery in Egypt.
a. Instead of experiencing the dream God had given
him, Joseph’s life suddenly became a nightmare.
b. Don’t you suppose that Joseph asked the same
question in his suffering that we ask God this morning, "Where is
God?" "Why has he allowed our country to suffer such a tragic
2. The truth is that God was Present In Joseph’s Suffering
a. Irony plays an important part in the story of
Joseph. Just when it seems that his dreams have
been crushed, forgotten and alone, then we stumble upon
chapter 39. This chapter tells us seven times that "the Lord
was with Joseph".
b. We need to understand something about the story
of Joseph: God didn’t just show up at the end
of the story, He was there all the time.
c. – In chapter 37: 5-11 God was there in Joseph’s dreams,
- In chapter 37: 21 God was there when Joseph was in the pit
and Ruben saved his life.
- In chapter 37:27-36 God was there when he was sold into
- In chapter Gen 39:1-6
1 Now Joseph had been taken down to Egypt. Potiphar, an Egyptian who was one of Pharaoh’s officials, the captain of the guard, bought him from the Ishmaelites who had taken him there.
2 The LORD was with Joseph and he prospered, and he lived in the house of his Egyptian master. 3 When his master saw that the LORD was with him and that the LORD gave him success in everything he did, 4 Joseph found favor in his eyes and became his attendant. Potiphar put him in charge of his household, and he entrusted to his care everything he owned. 5 From the time he put him in charge of his household and of all that he owned, the LORD blessed the household of the Egyptian because of Joseph. The blessing of the LORD was on everything Potiphar had, both in the house and in the field. 6 So he left in Joseph’s care everything he had; with Joseph in charge, he did not concern himself with anything except the food he ate.