Do you presume that for every trouble you face, there should come an equal blessing? Have you tried to live by this math? In the words of Shakespeare’s King Lear, “That way madness lies.”
In many ways, western Christianity has come to regard struggle as incompatible with the life God intends for us. But when we look at people in the Bible—in both the Old Testament and the New—we see that their lives were full of trouble.
Think about it. Adam was kicked out of the garden. Noah’s entire world was destroyed. Moses’s anger kept him from entering the promised land. David had an affair with his friend’s wife and then had his friend killed. Peter and Paul were both imprisoned and later martyred. John was exiled to Patmos. In this world, they all had trouble, and so shall we. And nowhere are we promised that our troubles in this life will be balanced with blessing.
Joseph’s life is the story of one trouble after another. After he was sold into slavery by his jealous brothers, he came to be respected by his new master, Potiphar. But then Potiphar’s wife tried to seduce Joseph, and later claimed that he tried to rape her, which got Joseph thrown into prison.
But in prison, Joseph was found to have the ability to interpret dreams. So when Pharaoh began having nightmares, Joseph interpreted the king’s dreams, and in the process, ended up saving both Egypt and his own family from famine and ruin. As a result, Joseph earned both the respect and confidence of the Pharaoh, who made Joseph his second in command over all Egypt.
At this point, we might be tempted to say, “See. After all his trouble, things worked out.” But remember, Joseph’s exaltation in Egypt came at great personal cost. And because it did, his story frees us from the madness of trying to balance out all the bad things that happen in this world with the good.
In this world we will have both blessing and trouble. Jesus told us this (John 16:33). And trouble and blessing will not always appear to be in balance. That doesn’t matter. Joseph’s position of power in Egypt, as glorious as it was at the time, was never meant to last. And here is where we’re like Joseph; we are not meant to be prisoners of this world, nor are we to be her kings. We were made for another world—one built on the grace of God in Christ, which was preserved through both Joseph’s exaltation and his troubles.
This world is out of balance. But take heart. Christ has overcome the world.
Written by Russ Ramsey