God’s Wisdom Revealed in Suffering:
God Uses Suffering to Transform Us.
Read Genesis 50:15-21
“You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result.”
Joseph’s brothers were more than stricken by grief at the death of their father, they were plagued by fear. Years earlier, in an act of jealous rage, they had sold Joseph to a band of Midianite traders who would take Joseph to Egypt and sell in him a slave to Potiphar (a senior administrator in Pharaoh’s court). His life would be cast into a roller coaster of events where he would rise to prominence in Potiphar’s household, be falsely accused and languish for years in prison only to be elevated to a position of authority (2nd only to Pharaoh himself) in all of Egypt. Consequently, when Jacob died, Joseph’s brother feared that he would now use his authority to exact revenge upon them. But Joseph understood what the brothers had overlooked; that God was infinitely wise and used all the circumstances in Joseph’s life to accomplish not only the physical salvation of his family from famine, but the spiritual transformation of his brothers from a bunch of self-centered hooligans to men of faith worthy of being the forefathers of the 12 tribes of Israel.
Suffering is not arbitrary in God’s program. God’s sovereign wisdom works not only to protect believers from facing more than we can handle (1 or. 10:13), but also to orchestrate the trials in such a way that they achieve his transformational purpose in our lives and the lives of others. Furthermore, as we see in the case of Joseph, God purpose in our life cannot be thwarted even by the destructive actions of others.
Shortly before his death in a Gestapo prison, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, one who understood the cost of following Christ and the personal pain it brings, writes in his last letter to his fiancée before his execution, “Stifter once said, ‘pain is a holy angel, who shows treasures to men which otherwise remain forever hidden; through him men have become greater than through all the joys of the world.’ It must be so, and I tell this to myself in my present position over and over again—the pain of longing which often can be felt even physically, must be there, and we shall not, and need not, talk it away. But it needs to be overcome every time and thus there is an even holier angel than the one of pain, that is the one of the joy in God.”[i] Suffering is more than just something we must endure. It is our teacher that and infinitely wise God uses to mold and shape us. Through the lesson of suffering, we often learn the most about ourselves and the God we serve.
[i] Eric Metaxas, Bonhoefer, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2010) p. 495.