Summary: Three things I need to know in my trials
Most of you know by now that Matt Dodd, one of the missionaries that we support as a church, was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer a little over two months ago and then experienced a stroke a little over a month ago. And if you have been reading any of his wife, Cameron’s, updates on Facebook or elsewhere I know that you, like me, must be astounded with how their family is handling this crisis which threatens to take Matt’s life at any moment.
I’m going to try and read to you just a portion of what Cameron posted on Tuesday this week:
God's steadfast love towards us was not proved today when Matt walked again, but rather 2,000 years ago when Jesus took our place on that cross and purchased on our behalf freedom from our sin and an eternity to spend with Him.
There is so much brokenness in this world. So much sin. So many burdens carried. I marvel at how this one hope outweighs all of them. How the light that came into this world is so bright, that all who look to Him to be saved cannot possibly see darkness again. How that future weight of glory awaiting us in heaven will ultimately make this ravaging of Matt's body and blood look light and momentary. It was once our plan to declare this hope in the remote mountains of Papua New Guinea. But now, we will declare it here. Or wherever we are. Declare hope to the very hopeless, light in the blackest darkness, and the truth of One who carries burdens far too heavy for any of us to bear, who carried them completely on the cross.
So tonight, as Matt and I fall asleep, still in separate places and still with a terminal illness in our lives, we rejoice in that truth that will never change, both on the days of bad news which have come and will likely come again, and on days like today, with very, very good news.
I’d like to think that if I were in a similar situation that I could respond like that, but frankly until we actually face something like that I’m not sure that any of us can be sure we would. But this morning as we look at the life of Joseph, and especially at some of his final words that are recorded in the Bible, we can all get a better handle on what it takes to respond to the difficulties in our life like that.
Last week, we left off with Jacob’s return to Bethel in Genesis 35. Just before he took his family and left Laban’s home, his wife Rachel had born a son and named him Joseph, which means “may he add”, expressing Rachel’s hope that God would add to her another son. After returning to Bethel, God granted that wish and Rachel gave birth to Benjamin, but she died during childbirth.
The account of Joseph’s life takes up most of the last 14 chapters of the book of Genesis and many commentators have noted similarities between his life and that of Jesus during His earthly ministry. Unfortunately, with our limited time we won’t be able to explore those together this morning, but that would be a great thing for you to research on your own.
When he was 17 years old, Jacob, who loved Joseph more than any of his other sons, made Joseph a coat of many colors, which infuriated his brothers. Then they become even more enraged when Joseph had two dreams in which his father and brothers bow down to him.
So when he goes to meet his brothers while they are tending sheep, his brothers plot to kill him. But when they have the opportunity to sell him off as a slave instead, they do that. Afterwards, they take Joseph’s coat and dip it in animal blood and bring it back to their father and imply that Joseph is dead.
But God was with Joseph. He is brought to Egypt and ends up serving in the house of Potiphar, one of Pharaoh’s officials. When Mrs. Potiphar tries to seduce Joseph, he flees, but is thrown into prison based on her false report about the incident.
But once again, God is with Joseph and he is put in charge of all the prisoners. So when Pharaoh’s cupbearer and baker are thrown into prison and both have dreams, God gives Joseph the ability to interpret those dreams. The cupbearer’s dream was good news because it meant that in three days he would be restored to his position.
For the baker, however, the news was not nearly as good since it meant that in three days he would be killed. And sure enough that is exactly what happened.