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God Never Ever Wastes a Hurt

Long story short...the story of Joseph reminds us that God never, ever, wastes a hurt. The story of Joseph covers over 10 chapters in Genesis so let me give you a quick recap.

  • At 17, Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers.  They were jealous of him because their father loved him the most.  Joseph also had a couple of dreams that his family would bow down to him.   
  • Joseph was sold to a guy named Potiphar in Egypt.  Because God was with him, Joseph excelled while serving in Potiphar's house so much so that Joseph was put in charge of everything.  Things were good for Joseph until Potiphar's wife propositioned him.  Joseph rebutted her advances twice, but was accused of abusing her.  Potiphar was so angry that He put Joseph in prison.
  • While in prison, God was with him so Joseph excelled so much so that the prison warden put Joseph in charge of everything.  While in prison, Joseph interpreted the dreams of some of the king's attendants.  Though they promised to remember him and seek his freedom when they were released, they forgot him and Joseph remained in prison for 2 more years.
  • Joseph's release from prison would come when he interpreted the Pharaoh's dream.  No one else knew the meaning of the dream but because God was with Joseph, he did.  Joseph's interpretation of the dream, plus his plan for providing for the people led Joseph to once again be put in charge of everything.  This time, everything in Egypt is under Joseph's control.
  • 7 years into his leadership of Egypt, a severe famine hit Egypt and the surrounding countries just as Joseph predicted through Pharaoh's dream.  2 years into the famine, Joseph's brothers come to Egypt to get help.  They heard that Egypt had wheat.  They had no idea that their brother, Joseph, was in charge.
  • Joseph immediately recognized his brothers when he saw them.  They didn't recognize him so he tricked and tested them but would soon make his identity known.  When he did, his brothers were scared but Joseph encouraged them to not be scared and to not beat themselves up for they did to him because it was God who was at work all along. 

No matter what others do to you, God's not done. 

There are many lessons that can be pulled from the story of Joseph.  Not the least of which is never give up because God is always working no matter what is happening to you.

3 Ways to Never Give Up

1.  Refuse to Grow Bitter
If anyone had the "right" to be bitter, it would be Joseph.  He was sold out by his family.  He was falsely accused and imprisoned.  He was taken advantage of and forgotten.  Yet, in all of this, he didn't grow bitter.  

What was his secret?  How did his heart stay right even when so many wrongs had been done to him?  God was with him and he knew it.  When you know that God is with you no matter what, there is a new perspective to live by and a new power to live with.  That's why Paul tells us in Ephesians 4:31 to get rid of bitterness and everything that comes with it.

31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.  Ephesians 4:31  

How do you know if bitterness has taken root in your life?   Are you blaming others for what they have done or for what has happened to you?  Or, are you seeing that God is with you and that He will never leave you no matter what.

2.  Freely Forgave
When given the chance, Joseph didn't hold a grudge or to seek payback.  He freely forgave his brothers.  He pulled them close, made himself known, and then expressed his forgiveness.  To forgive freely, it's key to understand what forgiveness is and what it isn't.

  •      Forgiveness ≠ Approval of Actions
  •      Forgiveness ꞊ Not Holding This Against You
  •      Forgiveness ꞊ Not Letting Your Actions of the Past Hurt My Future

As believers in Jesus, we should freely forgive others, too.  Listen to how Paul put it in Ephesians 4:32.  

32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.  Ephesians 4:32 

You will pull some people close to forgive them like Joseph did.  Others, you will forgive from a distance.  Forgiveness isn't a guarantee of future relationship, but it is a guarantee that the hurts of the past don't wreck your future.

3.  Trusted God’s Hand More Than Hurts Caused by People
Joseph's great faith reminds us that God's hand is more powerful than the hurts caused by others.  You live with the same faith.  God accomplishes his plan and purposes, no matter what.  That's why Joseph was able to forgive his brothers and to refuse bitterness.  He saw God's hand at work through all of His hurts.

20 You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.  Genesis 50:20
 
As you look at your life, how have you seen God work through your hurts?  How has He made you more like Jesus?  How has He led you to trust Him more?  How has He used you to help others?  
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