It was a blessing to be in church and listen to God’s message. I want to share important insights I gleaned from the sermon.
God allows difficulties to train us for righteousness. A Christian life is not a bed of roses and it does not ensure an easy life all the time. God does not take us out of this world to save us from pain or from injustice. He also does not stop problems to come our way. But we are assured of His favor and blessing in times of difficulty. He never leaves us nor forsake us.
God allows difficulties because they are our training ground in growth and faith. The greatest lessons learned are during trials. The greatest growth is gained after experiencing difficulties. We become better persons, we mature, and our character develops through trials and difficulties. We grow in character and in righteous living. We gain understanding of the better way. Above all, as Christians, we understand the way where God leads us and what pleases Him.
There are things I have learned, understood, and realized only after I went through painful situations and diffcult times in life. The Lord exposed my true intentions, my desires, and also my weaknesses which I never realized before. Only through those difficulties was I able to realize what I wanted most. After that I knew that I only want to follow God because, without Him, I am nothing and I could not see life clearly or live life peacefully. When I experienced panic attacks and anxiety before and I did not even know how I developed the condition, I kept on asking God why I am suffering and why it happened to me. But after going through that stressful, confusing, and difficult times both mentally and emotionally, I realized God was leading me to a place of full dependence on Him and to clarify my personal goals as a Christian. That time, I had a lot of things I wanted to do. I loved God and I had regular time of studying His Word but I was also preoccupied with work. Through that experience, God redirected my focus and energy towards the things that pleases Him. God revealed to me where I failed and what areas I needed to change. Only then I realized why God allowed me to experience anxiety and panic attacks. It enabled me to truly rely on God and give priority to things that pleases Him.
“Before I was afflicted, I went astray; but now I observe your word.”– Psalm 119:67 (WEB)
Unless we experience the pit and the prison, we could not dwell in the palace. This was the life of Joseph, the son of Jacob and Rachel. Being a favorite son of Jacob, his brothers were jealous of him and wanted to kill him (Genesis 37:18-20). But, through Reuben’s convincing of the brothers, they decided instead to throw Joseph into the pit after removing his tunics (Genesis 37:23-24). Then, upon seeing the caravan of Ishmaelite’s merchants, they sold Joseph for 20 pieces of silver (Genesis 37:28). Joseph was 17 years old. He was then brought to Egypt and sold to the captain of the guards of Pharaoh, Potiphar (Genesis 37:36). There, being favored by God, he was put in charged of Potiphar’s whole household that the wife of Potiphar tempted Joseph to lie with her. When Joseph refused, she accused Joseph and Potiphar sent him to prison (Genesis 39:1-23). Joseph stayed in prison for 2 years. Then, when Pharaoh had a dream and not anyone from the magicians or wise men were able to interpret, Joseph was called from prison to interpret Pharaoh’s dream. Because of the favor of God upon Joseph and the wisdom he had, Pharaoh appointed Joseph to rule over the whole Egypt only second to him in power. Joseph was 30 years old (Genesis 41:1-57).
From 17 years old to 30 years old, Joseph experienced series of problems in his life. He was thrown into the pit by his own brothers who even planned to kill him and then he was later on imprisoned. Yet, all throughout the passages in the Bible, it was said again and again that God’s favor was on Joseph. Even when God favored Joseph, God did not stop Joseph from being thrown into the pit by his own brothers or be cast into the prison. God allowed it. It was training ground for Joseph. Joseph was trained for discipline, patience, endurance, and faith through his experience. God taught Joseph to rely on Him through his ordeal with the betrayal of his brothers and the difficulty of being in prison. When Joseph was fully trained in character, God led him out of prison and promoted his status. A very important thing to take note of was the fact that Joseph had God’s favor when he was in the pit, when he was in prison, and when he ruled Egypt. God never left Joseph. He blessed Joseph every step of the way but He did not remove the difficulties away. Joseph realized this for he said to his brothers later on,
“As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to save many people alive, as is happening today.”– Genesis 50:20 (WEB)
God uses trials to shape us and tame us for a greater purpose. Even the evil that people throw against us can be turned to good through the sovereign and loving hand of God in our life. God won’t bring us out of the “pit and prison” unless we have learned the lessons He meant for us to understand and live out. God won’t bring us to the “palace” unless we have learned to rely on Him alone.
If God allows us to experience the pit and prison in life, rely on Him and take refuge in His presence. He has greater plans and His plans for us are always good. He will take us out of the pit and bring us to the “palace” —- the place of joy, peace, success, and security.