Many churches throughout the world use a Bible reading schedule called a "lectionary." It's just a fancy word meaning "selected readings." Posts like this reflect on the readings for an upcoming Sunday or other Church holiday, as found in the historic one-year lectionary.
How does the Christian deal with hardship? Not through denial and not through retaliation. Our Old Testament reading this week, from Genesis 50:15-21, points us to the nature of reconciliation.
Joseph’s brothers had done evil to him. There’s really no doubt about it. Granted, he had acted arrogant toward them, but they threatened to kill him, then imprisoned him temporarily, sold him to slave traders, and described him to their father as being dead. Joseph spent years in prison before rising to a position of authority in Egypt. He thought he was separated from his family forever. This was some serious hardship.
When Joseph’s brothers came to him, as we note, with another lie intended to save their necks, Joseph redirected the conversation to God’s good pleasure. His brothers meant all their evil to harm him. That is granted. There is no doubt about it. Yet God took his decidedly bad circumstances and used them for good - to Joseph, to his family, to his adopted nation of Egypt.
How does God use the hardship in our lives? We generally don’t know, especially in the midst of troubles. But he is always going to use it for the good of his kingdom. Is he teaching us patience? Is he directing our attention to him? Is he showing us how much Christ suffered on our behalf? Is he showing our neighbors how a Christian deals with hardship? Is he giving us a chance to teach others to love and serve us? Is he teaching us that our neighbors are in need just like we are? Really, we don’t know. But God is always going to use hardship for the good of his kingdom.
Joseph didn’t retaliate. He also didn’t deny that his brothers had acted in an evil way. Instead, he acknowledged that God is good, no matter what his brothers did. That’s how we endure hardship.
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