All too often we think God has abandoned us. We wonder why He has left us in the wilderness, why He has forgotten His promises. Like the disciples, when the storm rages, we wonder if Jesus is really bothered about us:
“Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?” Mark 4:38
At times I have wondered why my husband and I have gone through so much suffering. Our first child died before she was two and our other daughter had 12 surgeries by the age of six. I was made redundant twice and marriage was an uphill struggle for the first ten years.
In ministry too, it has been tough. We faced completely unfounded accusations of impropriety, we were robbed by a leader and (near enough) by a bank. We have been betrayed, attacked, lied to, let down and the rest.
I’m going to feature Joseph in my blogs for a few weeks. Most of us can relate to his journey and we all want his outcome. He went through terrible trials that lasted for 13 long years. He was hated, attacked, forced into slavery, falsely accused, imprisoned and forgotten. He was aged 17 when everything went wrong. That is very young. You could argue that he spent the prime of his life in prison.
We could do a ‘before’ and ‘after’ sketch of Joseph. Before the trials began, you could be forgiven for describing him as self-absorbed, insensitive and arrogant. As he exited those awful days of affliction, I think we would all agree that he was wise, considerate and kind.
God is never the author of anything evil but He uses tough times to transform us. Joseph was changed through trial and tribulation. So when promotion eventually came knocking on Joseph’s prison door, he was ready for his destiny. Pain and hardship had moulded him into a man of great character and compassion that was capable of leading an entire nation to safety.
It wasn’t just Joseph who needed a process to perfect his character. God used the years of remorse and regret to do a work in his brothers too. After all, they had mighty destinies to fulfil and needed to become men who could carry the anointing and lead their tribes.
The very same Judah who suggested they sell Joseph and profit out of his calamity, offered to ransom himself for Benjamin 22 years later (Genesis 43:9). He was a different man. Life changed him into an honourable and selfless person, someone God could use.
It’s for my good
Some time ago, my husband and I were going through a barren season. We were running very fast to stand very still. There had been grand prophecies over our church and yet all we could see was people leaving. We would go to the nations and watch God move by His Spirit then come home to the harsh reality of a diminishing congregation.
We had been through storms before but this was different. We could not put our finger on the reasons why people were leaving. Nothing big had happened. No-one was trying to split the church. No-one was accusing us of bad behaviour. Folk were just voting with their feet. It was soul destroying.
I contacted my mentor to see if she had any wisdom to offer. When I saw her response, one word jumped out before I had the chance to read the message. It was process. I sighed, but at the same time felt relieved. This period was part of God’s plan for our preparation. My job was to keep my heart soft and stay strong in faith throughout.
Suffering is on staff!
2 Corinthians 4:17 says that: “Our light affliction… is working for us…” When someone works for me, they are charged with fulfilling my requirements. This verse says that pain and pressure actually work for us and not against us. Trials transform us. They build character in us so that we can fulfil our true potential.
While God does not create calamity, He uses difficulty, delay and disappointment to get us ready for destiny. He uses hardship to build resilience and maturity. He uses the strains of a difficult life to prepare us for the abundant life.
However tough it gets, remember that your heavenly Father is with you. Just like Jesus was with the disciples during the storm, so the Holy Spirit is with you through every valley and wilderness. And He is preparing you for your destiny so that when your day dawns, you will be able to raise up strong.
You see, it’s the process that produces the person that can possess their promise.
If you want to be free from inner issues so that you can fulfil your purpose, I encourage you to order my book 30 Day Detox for your Soul from Amazon. Also, come to Healed for Life, our transformational event that helps get you ready for your destiny. See jonaughton.com for details