Friday, February 23, 2018

Problems with a purpose ............. Parables 707

March 13, 2001

Kathy talks about her healthy self-esteem. “My life was tough but I didn’t take society’s permission to feel sorry for myself. These days, counselors allow too much blame-shifting.”

By blame-shifting, Kathy referred to more than blaming people. Some say things like “it’s all my mother’s fault” or dump responsibility with words like, “I’m like this because of my childhood” or “I was abused” or “People reject me all the time.”

Kathy said too many people blame circumstances for their problems. She is not a psychologist but she does know her Bible. God expects us to take responsibility, not for what happens to us but for how we respond to what happens. He does not want us to be ‘victims of our circumstances’ but says we can be “more than conquerors through Christ who loves us.”

How can this be? If life hands us lemons, is it possible to make lemonade? The Bible says we cannot do this alone nor can we do it with the attitudes that Kathy disdained. We need help and we need God’s perspective on the difficult issues of life.

In the Old Testament, when Joseph was a boy, his brothers hated him because he was his dad’s favorite. Eventually their hatred took action. They sold the boy to slave traders and told their father that a wild beast had devoured him.

Joseph wound up in Egypt and because of his relationship with God, he was noticed and put in charge of his master’s household. But after false accusations from his master’s wife, he was put in prison and seemed doomed.
Yet even there, his faith made him stand out. He was given special attention. During this time, he showed an ability to interpret dreams and this eventually came to the attention of the Pharaoh. Joseph told this leader famine was coming so the Pharaoh gave him enormous responsibilities. During a time of plenty, Joseph ordered the nation to store their excess crops so they would be ready for what would come later.

When the famine arrived, it also affected Joseph’s family back in Canaan. As their need increased, old Jacob sent his remaining sons to Egypt to buy grain. They did not recognize their brother but after testing them, Joseph revealed his identity to them. Of course they were terrified. They knew his power and were afraid he would retaliate for what they had done to him many years before. But Joseph had never abandoned his relationship with God nor did he blame his brothers.

He responded with this incredible reasoning, “For two years now there has been famine in the land , and for the next five years there will not be plowing and reaping. But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance. So then, it was not you who sent me here but God.” His family was given a home in Egypt and he took care of them.

Later their father died. The brothers thought that now Joseph would surely take revenge, but he said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”

Joseph looked beyond what people had done to him and the circumstances of his life to see the purposes of God. Instead of becoming bitter, he became a hero.

Kathy may not be educated in the field of psychology but she does know one thing: those who look for God in their difficulties are far better off than those who look for someone or something to blame. Life can be tough but in trials, we can discover the One who is able to show us purpose and meaning. He can even use those tough situations for good.

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