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Don’t worry about the famine. It’s your chance to shine.
Joseph was rotting in the jail. If it weren’t for the famine, he wouldn’t have gotten the chance to show his strengths before Pharaoh.
If you are passing through a time of famine in your life,
- don’t quit your strengths
- don’t despair and give up
- don’t give in to hopelessness
- don’t lose patience
- don’t stop believing in God and in yourself
Joseph was wrongly sold into slavery (by his brothers!?!!). Then he was falsely accused and thrown in jail. But he kept a good attitude and worked hard. As a slave, he was put in charge of all Potiphar’s household. As a jailbird, he made administrator of the prison.
So when God sprung him, he was named vice president of all of Egypt. He kept his relationship vibrant with God and was able to interpret Pharaoh’s dream. In his new post, Joseph prepared the nation for a coming 7-year famine that catapulted Egypt into world dominance and paved the way for the launching of the nation of Israel (with Egypt as its incubator).
What Joseph’s brothers intended for evil, God turned into good. Joseph instructed his brothers to not be overly angry at themselves for having sold him into slavery: God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance – Gen. 45:7 NIV.
Nebuchadnezzar wanted them really dead. So he heated up the executioner’s furnace seven times the normal heat. Even the guards who threw in Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego died. Talk about… mmm, overkill.
Even so, those three Jews, guilty of not bowing to the king’s idol, didn’t flinch. With great impending disaster bearing down upon them, they stayed faithful. They would only pray and believe in God. They wouldn’t do lip service to appease the wrathful king.
In the end, constancy won. King Nebuchadnezzar leaped to his feet in amazement and asked his advisers, “Weren’t there three men that we tied up and threw into the fire?” They replied, “Certainly, O king.” He said, “Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.” — Dan. 3:24-25 NIV.
After that, the three Jews walked free. Good ole Neb learned not to mess with the One True God. And a decree was issued giving testimony throughout his empire. It pays to remain steadfast, to remain unbowed before the world’s idols despite intense pressure.
Muscle loss results from poor nutrition and disuse. Deprived of regular physical exertion, your bulk dwindles. Christians wish for a life without trials, but the result would be smaller spiritual muscles. So God ensures muscle growth, often through trials.
Feed on the Word of God and insist on growing in the Lord; get out of your church comfort zone and take on new spiritual challenges, projects and goals. Those who dwell in your house go from strength to strength. – Psalm 84:4a, 7a NIV.
They stride steadily, eyeing the poor Jewish eunuch. At any moment, they will leap crush the helpless man with claw and tooth. Each minute seems like an eternity. And yet each minute passes and give way to another eternity. Strangely not a lion goes for the kill. They menace, gaping hungrily at him. But the entire night passes, and they don’t eat Daniel.
Early in the morning comes the king, who was tricked into throwing his favorite administrator into this hellhole, to see if God delivered him. He calls, and Daniel responds: My God sent his angel, and he shut the mouths of the lions. They have not hurt me, because I was found innocent in his sight. Nor have I ever done any wrong before you, O king. – Daniel 6:22 NIV.
Similarly, trials are circling you. At every step, they threaten to sink you. Dont panic. Don’t run away. Don’t quit ministry. You only must remember how God delivered Daniel. Though the lions COULD overpower you, they WON’T. Pray and wait for the morning.
The purpose of trials is to build your faith.
To lead you to depend more on God.
Sadly, many instead lose their faith at this point. And they decide life is arbitrary, that there is no justice, no overarching design nor control, no
providence. Life is meaningless, they say. (Yet they still try to imbue it with meaning.)
Go back to God again and again until your trial turns to triumph.
After defeating every apparent enemy in the video game, Ender faces a mirror and sees his brother’s face. He shrieks with horror. The message is clear: Ender, you’re as cruel, ruthless, cold, calculating and power-hungry as Peter.
The video game is not the only thing to screw with his mind in Ender’s Game, by Orson Scott Card. At every turn, Col. Graff stacks the odds against the child genius in his attempts to prepare a general to fight the alien buggers. He is deprived of friends, allowed to be bullied, given the disadvantage in the battle room. Inevitably, he wins in the sci-fi story set to be a 2013 movie, but he chafes under the mind games.
It seems to me that God screws with our minds at times. Such is
the story of Job, who is deprived of knowing chapters 1 -3 of the book written about him that explains the bigger picture. It could have provided some solace. Such was the story of Joseph — and a host of other biblical heroes. All things work
together for the good… but when you’re going through the trial, it’s a mind game just to not explode.
So how does a child not turn to drugs when caught between parents in an acrimonious divorce? How do you keep outreaching zealously for God when your wife leaves you for no reason? How do you forgive when power-hungry church members accuse you falsely?
There is no easy answer. I personally like prayer. But what must be said is that an answer must be found. You must not burst
under pressure. Grace must remain intact through the furnace trial.
I was a literature major. I have never read a book that addresses this theme. It made me think profoundly. It brought comfort. (Spoiler alert) In the end, the mind games prepared Ender to defeat the enemy.
We want victories. We want to avoid trials. But victories are inextricably intertwined with trials. Do you wish to serve Jesus? You will have horrible trials that make you wish to return to the quiet life of before. But at the same time, you yearn for Holy Spirit revival. Gold comes out of the furnace.
After Job suffered unimagineable sorrow, he was blessed beyond measure. Jesus first had to be crucified in order to be resurrected. To triumph over death, He first had to die. They don’t teach this at seminary. But this is the path of ministry.
So don’t pray to avoid or even get out of trials. Pray for the victory.
Are finances short? Praise Him. Chances are that victories are just ahead. Pray for victories. When it comes to couples, they say opposites attract. I say that Vicky married Mr. Trials.