The Mystery of God’s Love
Joseph’s life seems to be the quintessential example of how ironic God’s love can seem at times. First, Joseph is sold into slavery and God gives him favor in Potiphar’s house (as a slave). Potiphar sees how the Lord blesses Joseph in everything he does so he puts him in charge of everything he owns. But then, Potiphar’s wife accuses Joseph of attempting to sleep with her and he is sent to Jail.
As if being sold into slavery wasn’t bad enough, Joseph finds himself a prisoner. And keep in mind, this is not a 21st century jail. However, the same thing happens to Joseph again. God gives him favor with the prison warden and the warden put him in charge of all the prisoners and the prison.
In the middle of all this is the verse that made me pause and wonder. Verse 21 says, “But the Lord was with Joseph in the prison and showed him his faithful love.
God’s love has always been a mystery to me, but this verse adds irony to the adjectives that describe it. Joseph is one of the two major characters in the Old Testament of whom there is no mention of sin (Daniel being the other). So here is Joseph, an innocent man, who didn’t do anything worthy of being sold into slavery — and certainly didn’t do anything to be placed in prison — and the Bible says that the Lord was with Joseph and God showed him his faithful love.
If this was me, right about now I would be asking God to show me his faithful love by restoring me to my father’s house! But it doesn’t seem God cares as much about the places I find myself as I do. That might be a bit of a generalization, but it feels that way sometimes, doesn’t it?
This is where I started wondering. What’s God’s love all about? I guess I put God’s love in the category of turning my unpleasant situation to pleasant again. Is that what God’s love is about? Because it certainly doesn’t seem to be the case for Joseph.
I don’t think it’s fair to say that God doesn’t care if our life seasons are painful. He can’t be a loving Father and not care when we hurt. But, clearly He is not always concerned with coming to our rescue, just in time to thwart all pain or injustice.
So what it is then? Is He a loving Father or the master character builder? My answer: Yes. Now that my kids are getting older, I can’t solve all their problems the same way I did when they were small. Gone are the days with simple solutions (I remember putting band-aids on bruises). These days, I’m explaining a principle or a correct behavior and leaving the solution up to them, as well as the consequences. I’m starting to realize that if my kids don’t make their own decisions and live with those consequences they will never mature into fully functioning adults.
By not stepping in to “rescue” Joseph, God is allowing Joseph to marinate in the trials of God’s character building. As a loving Father, if there were another way I’m sure God would choose it. But I have found, as I’m sure you have, that there usually is no other way. This is the pathway to maturity and there are no shortcuts!
So the next time you find yourself in prison, don’t resist it. Don’t resent it. Instead, remain faithful, as Joseph did. Let the time shape you into the mature person God wants you to be. In that season you will find God’s faithful love too.
Tags: God's Love, Trials
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I do think that often we see God “rescuing” us from a difficult situation rather than allowing us to go through it as a “blessing” and his provision or even protection of us. We should see God’s presence as His provision. You are right on – it is the rough patches of life that build character – even those of someone else’s making that unjustly impact us!
Kevin, thank you for these words that the Lord has put on your heart, forged in kiln of your life’s experiences. I have a phase that a repeate to myself at least once per week (I’m not sure where I acquired it – perhaps from George O. Wood, former paster and now General Superintendant of the AG): “God is more interested in what happens in us than what happens to us, in who we become than what we do.” Psalm 37:3-4, 23-24 are my life verses (if there can be such a thing – I declare it because I revisit them weekly and share them with others almost as frequently). The cadence of these verses is the life rhythm of understanding how God works his will in me and forms me into his man. David is anointed by God to be the new King of Israel but the former King is on a quest to assassinate David – yikes. This season of David’s life filled with retreat and evation. Psalm 37 is filled with David’s frustration at how the wicked king seems to be succeeding. However, as is the pattern of many of David’s psaltries, the Spirit of God answers his questions about the properity of the wicked in the same psalm: Trust God, Do What’s Right, Be Where He Has You (currently) and Enjoy Him In It (and again I say rejoice). Delight In Him and Your Desires Will Be Assimilated with His (Ps 37:3-4). P.S. Even when we blow this plan, He delights in make our ways straight and getting us back up again (Ps. 37:23-24). In Christ Matt Noble