Summary: When tempted to ask "why" to God, remember to interpret life in light of some things that you already know to be true just as Joseph did.
November 7, 1999 Genesis 40
Key verse: ¡§Do not interpretations belong to God?¡¨ Genesis 40:8
Yesterday afternoon, our family went up to the mall for a little while, and I was very surprised to see that the Christmas decorations were already up. People were doing their Christmas shopping & Christmas sales have already started. If Tammy would let me get away with it, I think that I would buy boxes for our kids for Christmas. Every year, they pull the gifts out of the boxes, play with them for a few minutes and then play with the boxes for the rest of the day. Most of the time, no one remembers what they got for Christmas anyway. There are only two Christmas gifts that I remember from my early days. One year, my grandfather bought me a jar of pickles because he knew how much I loved them. And then, on my 16th birthday, my mom bought me this camera. It¡¦s broken now, but I used it for years and made record of some great memories with it. It was my window on the world. I saw everything in my world through this lens. I even bought these filters that changed the way that everything I saw through this camera looked. I had a filter that could make everything have a red tint to it. I had one that made any lights in the picture look like they were stars. You know how when you try to take pictures through a window, you get the glare of the window in the picture; well I had a filter that prevented that from happening. Those filters changed the way that I looked at my world around me.
Yesterday morning, I went to the funeral of Sharon and Dennis¡¦s dad, Charles Messenger. At that funeral, there was sorrow, but there was no weeping and wailing. The reason for that was because the people at that funeral looked at that situation through a filter. They knew that Mr. Messenger was no longer suffering, that he was with Jesus, and that they would see him again. That belief is the filter that allowed them to see the death of someone they loved in a different way than people without Jesus would have seen it. They could have hope and joy in the midst of a very sorrowful event.
Each of us have filters that we use to help us find meaning in the events that happen in our everyday life. They help us to interpret what happens in our world. An optimist and a pessimist interpret the exact same event in totally different ways because of the filters that they use. They see things from different perspectives. This past Sunday night, we talked about even what spiritual gift you have will cause you to look at the same situation as someone else but have a totally different reaction to it. The type of filters that you use will determine how you react to those situations that happen in your life that cause you to say ¡§Why God?¡¨ We all have those kinds of experiences. They are the ones that defy explanation. People often come to me with those questions that start out something like this: ¡§Why would God . . .¡¨ In answer to those kind of questions, I almost always start out by saying, ¡§I would never be so bold as to try to explain God¡¦s actions for Him . . .¡¨, and then I go on to give some different perspectives to look at the situation from.
Joseph was in one of those ¡§Why God¡¨ situations. After having grown up with 10 brothers that hated him, and being sold into slavery in a far away land, he was now in prison because he had been falsely accused of the attempted rape of the wife of an important official. Joseph could have easily given up, but Joseph looked at life through some filters that helped him to interpret his situation in such a way that he was able to keep from falling into despair.
1. Interpret life in light of the working/plan of God (vs. 1-4)
The captain of the guard (Potiphar) was the one who put the baker and the butler under Joseph¡¦s care. Either he recognized that the charges brought against Joseph were false, or because of his friendship/relation-ship with Joseph, he wanted to make things as pleasant as possible for him in an unpleasant situation. Joseph was unjustly treated, and apparently, those with the power to correct the situation knew he was unjustly treated but refused to do anything about it. How would that have made you feel?
God put everything together at the right time and the right place. Joseph, the interpreter of the dreams, was put in charge of the baker and the butler, the dreamers. With God, nothing happens by chance. He has a reason and a plan. What seems like a tragedy to us, God will use to accomplish His purposes if we walk in obedience. (Christian was shipwrecked and washed up on deserted island. Prayed for days for God to send a rescue team. No one came. Used driftwood to build a small shelter. One day, after foraging for food, he came back to his shelter to find that it was in flames. He prayed, ¡§Why God?¡¨, but God gave no answer. The next morning, he was awakened by a rescue party. When the man asked how that they knew he was there, they said, ¡§We saw your signal fire¡¨. God was working and God had a plan. The man didn¡¦t need to get mad at God.)