Surprise!!

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Scripture: Genesis 45:Then Joseph said to his brothers, “Come closer to me.” And they came closer. He said, “I am your brother, Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt. And now do not be distressed, or angry with yourselves, because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life. For the famine has been in the land these two years; and there are five more years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvest. God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant on earth, and to keep alive for you many survivors. So it was not you who sent me here, but God; he has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house and ruler over all the land of Egypt.”

Observation: In Genesis chapter 45, Joseph’s true identity is finally revealed to his brothers. He’s not just the second-in-command in Egypt, but he is in fact the younger brother they sold into slavery many years before. Not only that, the years have given Joseph a sense of perspective. He understands it was God the Father who directed him into slavery those many years ago – that he might one day be a savior of may people in the midst of catastrophic drought.

Application: The story of Joseph teaches us there can be purpose in our struggle and suffering, though it’s difficult to know this in the moment. In Joseph’s case, it appears that God directed Joseph through hardship and adversity to use him for a greater good later. Another obvious biblical example is the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus – by which all humanity might be saved. But hardship doesn’t have to be directed by God to be used by God for a greater good.

Some years ago our older daughter struggled with a bout of depression. If you or someone you love has dealt with depression, you know how difficult this can be. Over the course of 2-3 years we had to learn what depression is and how to deal with it. I’m pleased to say she currently exhibits no lingering effects from depression – praise be to God. That said, she’s now in college studying psychology. She intends to use her experience with depression as a vehicle for helping others. Did God give her depression? I doubt that. But I do believe God can redeem her experience of depression as a means to bless others.

How might the Lord redeem your life’s struggles as a means to bless others?

Prayer: Heavenly Father, life is full of hardships and struggles. There are things we have to go through we wouldn’t wish on our worst enemy. Yet you have a way of taking our struggles and using them for the greater good. Give us grace to see the opportunity you give us to be used in this way, for your glory. We ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

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