Summary: When we suffer through trials, we should look for ways we can learn from them and trust that God is in control no matter what the outcome is.
One of my biggest worries during my senior year of college was getting a job. It was now time for me to enter the “real-world.” Well actually, I wasn’t going to enter the “real-world.” I was going to Seminary. But nonetheless, I still needed a job to provide for myself and my soon-to-be wife. While looking online, I saw that the Bethel Seminary library was hiring, so I sent in my application. Some of you may be thinking, “David…A Librarian?” Hey, I had some experience working in a library in college, and I needed a job, OK? After a couple of phone interviews, I had made it to the final round of interviewing, and they asked me to come do a face-to-face interview. As the day for my interview neared, I began to worry more and more. My heart-beat was literally racing at all times, and I was barely sleeping at night. Eventually, I went down and did the interview. It went great, and I felt good about it. The interview was on a Friday, and they told me they would let me know by Monday. I turned over in my head a thousand times if that was a good thing or not. Well, Monday finally came, and no call. So did Tuesday, and still no call. Finally, on Wednesday, I got a phone call. “Hello, David. Hi. This is the Bethel Human Resources Department…I’m sorry to tell you…but the Bethel Seminary Library position has gone to another candidate. Thanks anyway.”
JOSEPH’S LIFE IS LIKE OUR JOURNEY
The passage we will be looking at today is from Genesis chapter 37:2-36. It is an introduction to the person of Joseph. Joseph is one of 12 of Jacob’s sons. He is currently 17 years old when we join him in this story, is the son of his father’s favorite wife Rachel, and is also Jacob’s favorite son. As the chapter begins, Joseph has two dreams. Let’s read together in Genesis chapter 37, verses 5-9:
5 Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers, they hated him all the more. 6 He said to them, "Listen to this dream I had: 7 We were binding sheaves of grain out in the field when suddenly my sheaf rose and stood upright, while your sheaves gathered around mine and bowed down to it."
8 His brothers said to him, "Do you intend to reign over us? Will you actually rule us?" And they hated him all the more because of his dream and what he had said.
9 Then he had another dream, and he told it to his brothers. "Listen," he said, "I had another dream, and this time the sun and moon and eleven stars were bowing down to me."
Some of you may not remember becoming a Christian, but for those who became Christians later in life, you might remember what it was like. At first, there is that wonderful feeling of forgiveness, and the blessed joy of new life. No matter how we look at it, everything seems to be going better for us. We are on top of the world. Joseph’s first 17 years remind me of our first seasons with Christ. It seems that life couldn’t be better, things are working out, and we are our Father’s favorite.
However, in his blissful state, Joseph is often ignorant of the trials that soon lay ahead. This is proven by how Joseph tells his dreams to his brothers. He is quite confident that things will work out just perfectly for himself. One has to wonder if this guy even has any idea that his brothers hate him.
Things would soon change for Joseph. He was sent out by his Father to look for his other brothers. When they saw him a ways off, they decided that they would kill him. When Reuben objected, they settled on merely throwing him in an empty cistern. Eventually, Judah gets the idea that they should merely sell him to the passing Ishmaelites, and Joseph is brought to Egypt as a slave. This is not the day that Joseph had in mind for himself. Just when everything is going right and he feels on top of the world, everything begins to fall apart. Joseph probably had many grand ideas on how his dream would be fulfilled, but this most likely was not one of them.
Just like our journey with Christ, infatuation/a period of bliss doesn’t last forever. Life is a whole lot more like a rollercoaster than a flat plain. And like a rollercoaster, sometimes when you’re going up, you can’t see what’s next. Anyone ever been on the “Wild Thing Rollercoaster” at Valleyfair? Well, on the Wild Thing, there are many ups and downs and twists and turns. Towards the end, everything seems to settle down, and the ride slows down and coasts at an even level. At this point, it is easy to think to yourself, “Ah, finally things are safe again…” When suddenly the ride takes a sudden drop down and it appears that your life is going to end and your face smashed on the top of a tunnel, but thankfully, you make it in the tunnel without getting hurt. Life is a whole lot like that drop. Too often, we just expect things to go well. It’s the shock of them not that makes us scream. And too often, we are told they will go well. Many preachers love to deliver the news that with Jesus, things will turn around and peace and joy will always come our way. However, Jesus never said that. Here’s what Jesus said in Matthew 7, verses 24 through 27: