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Weekly Devotionals

Victory Through Hardship

33 “And now let Pharaoh look for a discerning and wise man and put him in charge of the land of Egypt. 34 Let Pharaoh appoint commissioners over the land to take a fifth of the harvest of Egypt during the seven years of abundance. 35 They should collect all the food of these good years that are coming and store up the grain under the authority of Pharaoh, to be kept in the cities for food. 36 This food should be held in reserve for the country, to be used during the seven years of famine that will come upon Egypt, so that the country may not be ruined by the famine.”

37 The plan seemed good to Pharaoh and to all his officials. 38 So Pharaoh asked them, “Can we find anyone like this man, one in whom is the spirit of God?”

39 Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Since God has made all this known to you, there is no one so discerning and wise as you. 40 You shall be in charge of my palace, and all my people are to submit to your orders. Only with respect to the throne will I be greater than you. ”

Genesis 41:33~39

Joseph, was sold to slavery when he was 17, and entered the service of Pharaoh at the age of 30. He spent a significant amount of that time in prison, as Potiphar’s wife falsely accused him of trying to violate her. While we don’t know exactly how long he was incarcerated, assuming that the time he served Potiphar was about three years, he would have spent anywhere between 8 to 10 years locked up. And, of course, all the while, he remained faithful to God, and God even blessed him in prison as the prison ward put Joseph in charge of everything.

When we read the story of Joseph, we often think that God blessed him for his faithfulness despite all the hardships that he went through, but I would like to think that God blessed him through his hardships and difficulties. He used his suffering and hardship to equip him for the big task he would have to eventually face.

And the big task at hand after interpreting Pharao’s dream was food rationing for the last seven years of famine after the first seven years of bountiful harvest. I would imagine that one priority while he was incarcerated was rationing food, as most probably, resources in prison was severely scarce. In some ways, unbeknownst to Joseph, he was being trained, almost as a second nature to him, the administration of tight resource allocation!

But this is not an isolated instance in the bible. Moses, who lived in the Pharao’s court in his youth, had to flee to the desert after he murdered an Egyptian soldier. He spent 40 years in the desert literally (and metaphorically) before he returned for his big mission of setting his people free. And it was his time in the desert that equipped him to lead Israel through their journey in the wilderness. God’s ways and his thoughts are higher than our ways and our thoughts, because he is omniscient and omnipotent. And on top of that, He is a God of goodness in his own nature.

Friends, in our journey of this life, everything that we do, all the circumstances that we are in, would not have happened if God would not have allowed it. Sometimes we simply might not understand why we are in the circumstances that we are in. I certainly had my fair share of questions and doubts. But if we believe in a sovereign God that transcends time and space, perhaps everything that we do will have a particular purpose within His sovereign will. And why wouldn’t it? Our God is not a good of randomness and confusion, but a God of Goodness and Purpose. Our stories might not look as grandiose as Joseph’s or Moses, but certainly as His children, I trust He wants and wills to design a life that is good and purposeful. So, let’s remain faithful and joyful though all circumstances, trusting that he will lead us “besides quiet waters”, as the psalmist writes.

And as the lyrics in the song “I Offer My Life”, let’s declare, “Everything I’ve been through/ Use it for your Glory”.

Have a blessed week everyone!