A few days ago, I had a meeting with our Member of Parliament. There was an issue of social injustice that we had been personally affected by; but also we had become aware of others who were struggling even more on account of it. He listened carefully as I put the points before him, and has promised to raise the problem with the relevant government department. The day after our meeting we got good news, and our personal struggle with the issue had come to an end. But I was so glad that I had been sufficiently motivated by our own situation to make the effort to go and highlight the problem on behalf of the many who are in similar or worse positions. I had to suffer a little, in order to be effective.
Poor Joseph was suffering considerably more! The false accusation of his master’s wife had landed him, not in an ordinary prison, but in the place where the king’s prisoners were confined (Genesis 39:19-21). No doubt this was high security, and no comfortable location – his master, burning with anger, would no doubt have seen to that! But this was an important part of God’s plan. There was an important connection to be made with the palace staff, so Joseph’s discomfort was not without purpose. He had to be brought low in order to be raised up.
I don’t believe that God causes us to suffer. I don’t see suffering as a blessing in any shape or form. But I do think that God sometimes allows us to be discomforted as a necessary part of his plans, to help us to understand a situation better, or as in our case, to help us to view life with a compassionate and motivated heart, or else as in Joseph’s case, to position him for the requisite connections, or for some other reason that God knows and we don’t. I think too, maybe suffering sometimes just happens, for no particular reason.
One thing I do know though, is that ‘while Joseph was there in the prison, the Lord was with him; he showed him kindness and granted him favour…” Even if it had been for no reason at all, no benefit to anyone or any situation, that must have been comfort indeed – for at that point, Joseph had no idea of what the future held.
Isn’t it good to know that whatever situation we have to face, whether or not there doesn’t seem to be any redeeming feature to it, God is there with us. What is the most difficult aspect of your life at this moment in time? God is with you in it. Does that change how you’re feeling about it?