Looking back, I remember with such fondness the blessing the Lord brought into my life when He laid it on my heart, during a sad time, to join a Cornerstone Life Group. During this devastating time, when I was experiencing my second divorce and working two jobs in order fund my son’s college education, I was only available on Monday nights.
As I reviewed the list of Life Groups, the one led by Jan and Dennis Bishop was the only group that met on Mondays. Their study at that time so powerfully focused on Joseph, who had experienced the extraordinary pain of being rejected and sold into slavery by his siblings. This excruciating experience created the pathway for Joseph to become a leader in Egypt and the champion who protected the people of this planet during a devastating famine.
After protecting his loved ones during the famine, despite their rejection of him, and enduring the loss of his father, Joseph spoke God-inspired insights when he was approached by his brothers. His insights have become a theme for my life.
'His brothers then came and threw themselves down before him. “We are your slaves,” they said.
But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”'
Joseph understood that his healing didn’t arise from his success, but rather from the redeeming work of God. Joseph gave voice to the poignant truth that his enslavement ended up being the very thing that freed his community and family from famine and death. Like Joseph, I also cling to the truth that sometimes there is great purpose in our pain. God has been laying on my heart that I should look with gratitude at the way that He has blessed me through my earthly pain. He has leveraged it to purge sinfulness from my heart and to inspire me to be obedient to His commands and to trust in Him.
Today, I know that our Heavenly Father loves me, and I love Him too. Unlike some who get mad at our sovereign Lord for their earthly pain, I feel extremely grateful that He did not allow the sinful me to continue my lifetime of disobedience. I was headed to hell because of my sinfulness. Now, because I believe in His sacrifice, I have begged for His forgiveness, and He has changed my heart as a result of this earthly pain, I pray that He will bestow on me Christ’s righteousness and allow me to worship Him in Heaven for all of eternity.
Some other verses that emphasize this point can be found throughout the Bible. Here are some examples:
'I will not look on you with pity or spare you; I will surely repay you for your conduct and the detestable practices among you. Then you will know that I am the Lord.'
'No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.'
By being determined to love Him through our earthly pain and to see His tender mercy in transforming our hearts, we will be blessed by difficult times.
Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for your love. As I look to my past, I know that I have brought much of my earthly pain on myself as a result of my sinfulness. Now, rather than focus on those painful circumstances, I focus instead on your tender mercy and allow my love for and belief in you to continue to transform me. I praise you for who you are and express my loving gratitude for your compassion and your willingness to transform me. Amen.