So what is the purpose of trials?
- The process of proving the quality or worth of something or someone.
- The test of your faith, patience or endurance through the process of suffering.
- To prove whether or not your faith is genuine.
I Peter 1:6-7 says, ” In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7 These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.”
Every great Hero in any story, was not a person or character that had it “easy” in life. David was not a great hero until he conquered Goliath, Daniel had to be accused then thrown into a den of lions first- before God would deliver him. There are so many examples in the Bible. Joseph was betrayed by his own siblings, sold into slavery, accused of rape when it was a lie, thrown into jail and forgotten for two years, here it comes…THEN God delivered Joseph. Joseph suffered a total of 13 years before things started looking up. Jesus basically promises that His followers WILL have and go through trials. “I have told you these things so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take courage; I have overcome the world!” John 16:33.
Joseph’s story is without doubt the story that I clung to as I went through many trials. In Joseph’s case, the ultimate purpose for his suffering was to expose his brothers’ hearts and to bring them to repentance and also to save thousands of lives from a future famine in Egypt. Joseph is a key figure in the Bible because he represents Jesus. There are many similarities and characteristics shown about Joseph that correlate to Jesus because the story of Joseph was a foreshadow. This foreshadow was to show the Jews that they represented Joseph’s brothers that rejected Joseph. It was also a means of safeguarding the existence of the Messiah’s line, through Joseph and his brothers’ family. Here are just some of those links between Joseph and Jesus:
- Like Joseph (Genesis 37:23), Jesus was also stripped of His robe (Matt. 27:28)
- Jesus was mocked by His own family (John 7:5), Joseph (Genesis 37:10-11).
- Jesus was falsely accused (Matthew 12:22-32), Joseph (Genesis 39).
- Jesus was betrayed for silver (Matt. 26:15), Joseph (Genesis 37:27-28).
- Jesus was thrown into prison (Luke 23:25), Joseph (Genesis 39:19-21).
- Jesus is exalted after He goes through everything (Philipians 2:9-11), Joseph (Genesis 41:37-57).
- Jesus welcomes Gentiles into salvation as part of His family (Ephesians 2:11-21), Joseph married a Gentile Egyptian wife (Genesis 41:6).
- All have to bow their knee to Jesus (Romans 14:11), Joseph (Genesis 42:5-7).
- Jesus will reveal Himself and forgive His brothers (Israel) after they repent(Zechariah 12:10, John 19:37 *yet future*). Joseph (Genesis 45).
Now, let’s examine the first point mentioned above. It is to prove the quality of someone. Throughout Joseph’s suffering, his integrity never changed. He was an upright guy from the start and was blessed by God. He never complained (at least there is no documentation of it) once in the Biblical narrative. I, on the other hand am more like Job. I need to know! I want answers that are logical and coherent, but with God, He usually reveals that at the end.
Joseph was undoubtedly the most patient. He knew in his heart that there was a reason for all of this and he did not waiver, he just allowed things to unfold. Joseph was faithful the entire time of his suffering, he never once changed his mind about believing in God, believing whether God still loved him or not. He remained faithful after 13 long years!
I believe that because Joseph remained faithful and patient, he was strengthening a spiritual muscle called endurance. Like any trained athlete, endurance is not something that is easily attained. Runners know this all too well. I am not a runner, but admire their endurance. When I was at the gym (too long ago to discuss) I would watch this runner that happened to be there at the same hour I would go. The track was set up in front of the cardio machines, so it was unavoidable to miss seeing him run. He could run for an hour, steady, constant and had so much endurance! One day, another younger runner came to the track at the same time. He was around 19 years old and the other runner in his 30’s. The 19 year old wanted to show off his athleticism. They decided to start at the same time and the 19 year old was off! He ran fast and hard, while the other one maintained his pace. The younger one was “faster”, but his fuel ran out after about two laps, while the other guy was running along, almost looking bored. Well, the 19 year old went to do his other workout, took a shower, got dressed and I managed to see him go through the gym because he came by the track. I’m guessing that he wanted to see if the runner was still on the track. He was. After the 19 year old left the building, the runner looked at his watch and slowed down into a stop. I wondered how long it took him to get to that kind of endurance because he ran for a little more than an hour at the same pace and was not out of breath like the younger one was, he simply seemed pleased and refreshed when he stopped.
Trials have purpose. They are God sent and allowed to improve character and endurance. They are also a testimony to others, to give them hope and assurance. Yes, this world will have unfortunate events happen to both good and bad. When it comes to God’s children, He uses them for the benefit of the person going through them, but He also uses them for the benefit of the onlookers.
I have gone through both and it is harder to process the latter. It is more logical to go through a trial for the benefit of one’s own growth, but what about if you are suffering for the growth of a person in your immediate circle? We all know someone that is a Christian that has suffered horrific things, perhaps a death of a loved one or multiple deaths. Sometimes, onlookers that are not believers in God at all, will begin to have their hearts changed by what they witness. If you know someone that is suffering constantly, being mocked for their faith, hated, talked about and they are a Christian, take a moment to pause. There is a lesson being learned here, whether you are a believer in Jesus or not. What can you learn from how they process pain? What does that say about yourself?
I once heard the saying, “a woman is like a tea bag – you can’t tell how strong she is until you put her in hot water.” Oh, how true! The same applies to men, by the way. We have all known someone that reacted opposite to what one hoped they would react, some in a good way and others, in a bad way. If you’re a believer, now is the time to see what your reaction is to calamity. Your reaction speaks volumes to God and to observers around you, so be careful. This is your time of testing, will you come out shining like gold or will you be more like swamp water?
After Joseph underwent his suffering, God exalted Joseph to second in command in Egypt, second in command to Pharaoh, himself! He was blessed with authority, power, wealth, prosperity, success, a family and a legacy. God will also bless all who are His children that go through a trial, successfully. Focus on endurance to get to the end of that trial and through it all, God is with you. Let this be your encouragement. Through our pain, we can pay it forward. We can tell others how God got us through and gave us comfort. This could be exactly what someone needs to hear, so don’t keep quiet about it, but share it with others.
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. 5 For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.” II Corinthians 1:3-5
“I have made you, I will carry you, I will sustain you and I will restore you.” Isaiah 46:4
“For to this and we both labor and suffer reproach because we have set our trust in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of those who believe.” I Timothy 4:10
“But He knows the way that I take. When He has tried me, I will come out like gold.” Job 23:10
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