Joseph’s life involved much suffering. The young man was betrayed by his brothers, sold into slavery, unjustly imprisoned, and forgotten. But when God’s plan was revealed, Joseph declared that it was good (Genesis. 45:7-8).
Scripture tells us that the Lord has many purposes for the pain we experience. One is to develop personal righteousness in us. Desiring that we walk in holiness before Him, God utilizes discipline to direct us away from ungodliness and to increase our fruitfulness. He will use difficult people and circumstances to prune away any “deadwood”—attitudes, behaviors, and relationships that do not fit a child of God (Ephesians. 4:25;. 4:29, 4:31). While such pruning is not a pleasant experience, it can effectively train us to lead a godly life.
God also uses suffering to manifest the life of Christ in us. For that to happen, we must learn to depend on Him for both our work and our words. If circumstances did not press in upon us, we would probably go our own way. But we are to be like Jesus, who relied on His Father no matter how easy or hard the situation became. As Christ’s ambassadors, we are to be living examples of His character. This may mean forgiving our enemies, bearing our burdens with patience, or finding joy in the midst of sorrow, just as He did. Our witness will not be a perfect one, but we should display a growing “family resemblance” to the Lord.
Life is full of trouble. But in the hands of a loving God, our suffering is being used for eternal purposes.
By Dr. Charles Stanley