Forget Trouble

Genesis 41:50-57

50Before the years of famine came, two sons were born to Joseph by Asenath daughter of Potiphera, priest of On. 51Joseph named his firstborn Manasseh and said, “It is because God has made me forget all my trouble and all my father’s household.” 52The second son he named Ephraim and said, “It is because God has made me fruitful in the land of my suffering.”

53The seven years of abundance in Egypt came to an end, 54and the seven years of famine began, just as Joseph had said. There was famine in all the other lands, but in the whole land of Egypt there was food. 55When all Egypt began to feel the famine, the people cried to Pharaoh for food. Then Pharaoh told all the Egyptians, “Go to Joseph and do what he tells you.”

56When the famine had spread over the whole country, Joseph opened all the storehouses and sold grain to the Egyptians, for the famine was severe throughout Egypt. 57And all the world came to Egypt to buy grain from Joseph, because the famine was severe everywhere.

Introduction

When we believe God, we are called for a mission, either internationally or domestically. The mission God has given serves as purpose of our existence. After we receive Christ’s Spirit, He empowers us to witness for Him. We come to know our purpose once we use our spiritual gifts to accomplish our mission.

How do you know you’re positioned or situated exactly in the mission God has prepared for you? You praise Him for the great things He has done in and through your life and forget troubles you’ve gone through while obeying Him.

Days before we left the Philippines, strong typhoon visited our city. Our city situated on mountaintop was flooded because of landslide. Water drainage system was filled with silt and mud, and our home was flooded too. Such terrible trouble comes to mind during snow storm in Canada. Snow storm trouble is more tolerable than typhoon trouble we had experienced. I can praise God for that.

The abundance of material things in Canada has been instrumental not to recall the troubles we’ve been through in the past. I may miss some adventures but by faith in God, He would certainly sustain us with thankful hearts as we explore in this land the next phase of life experiences and adventures in Christ.

The Lord Jesus said in John 16:20-24, 20Very truly I tell you, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy. 21A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world. 22So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy. 23In that day you will no longer ask me anything. Very truly I tell you, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. 24Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.

The life story of Joseph practically exemplified the work of God in the life of believers. Joseph testified that he forgot his troubles after God made him fruitful.

1. Fruitful

50Before the years of famine came, two sons were born to Joseph by Asenath daughter of Potiphera, priest of On. 51Joseph named his firstborn Manasseh and said, “It is because God has made me forget all my trouble and all my father’s household.” 52The second son he named Ephraim and said, “It is because God has made me fruitful in the land of my suffering.”

The name Manasseh means ‘cause to forget.’ The name Ephraim could mean ‘double fruit’ or ‘fruitful.’ Joseph named his first sons Manasseh to remind himself that God has caused or made him forget the troubles and homesickness.

He named his second son Ephraim to keep reminiscing and remembering the fruitful and luxurious life he enjoyed in Egypt where he was sold as slave.

Joseph articulately described Egypt as land of his suffering, why? Even if his brothers were very harsh to him, he certainly missed his family, especially his father. And in Egypt, he was a slave, and then, he was imprisoned for accusation that he never entertained or even think of. Yet, he kept on trusting the Lord, why?

It says in Hebrews 11:1, 1Faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.

Joseph trusted the Lord despite of terrible troubles he had gone through. Troubles that God allows us to endure are divine gadgets to measure our trust in Him and His plan. And even if we cannot experience great life just yet, faith in God sustains our courage to face adversities even when it causes us our life.

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego

Three young Israelites—Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego refused to worship the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon had set up. They responded courageously in Daniel 3:16-18, 16Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to him, “King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. 17If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. 18But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”

By faith, the three friends courageously faced a possible death by burning. The story narrated that they were thrown into a blazing furnace but the Lord sent His angel to rescue them, and they were not harmed, not a single hair or their robes was burned, not even a smell of fire was on them. And as a result, it says in Daniel 3:28-30, 28Nebuchadnezzar said, “Praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who has sent his angel and rescued his servants! They trusted in him and defied the king’s command and were willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God. 29Therefore I decree that the people of any nation or language who say anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego be cut into pieces and their houses be turned into piles of rubble, for no other god can save in this way.” 30Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the province of Babylon.

The dramatic experience of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego has a very similar pattern to Joseph’s experience. Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego trusted the Lord, their faith was tested, they kept on trusting God despite of unfavorable situations, and the Lord rewarded their faithfulness to Him. They were saved.

Joseph’s faith was tested. He was sold as slave, imprisoned for crime he didn’t commit. He testified that God made him fruitful in the land of his suffering.

At the cross Jesus cried, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

Christ is Savior and Lord. He understands and empathizes with sufferings and difficulties. He Himself suffered and overcame troubles and adversities in life. By faith, we trust and believe Him. But, what do we really believe in Christ?

Jesus had a friend named Lazarus who died. Lazarus had a sister named Martha, and Jesus assured her about Lazarus in John 11:23-27, 23“Your brother will rise again.” 24Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” 25Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” 27“Yes, Lord,” she replied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”

Martha believed Christ and trusted Him for spiritual matters. What did Jesus imply when He said that He is “the Resurrection and the Life?”

As “the Resurrection,” Christ has the power to resurrect us from the dead just as He Himself had resurrected from the dead.

As ‘the Life,’ Christ is our creator and giver of life, temporal and eternal life.

Martha trusted Christ for spiritual matters but not for physical life. Martha believed Jesus can heal the sick. She heard and may have witnessed some miraculous healing that Jesus did but not bringing the dead back to life.

What did Jesus want to prove to Martha, to observers and to us as well?

Subsequently, Christ called Lazarus and he came out of the tomb alive after he was dead for four days. Why did Jesus bring Lazarus back to life? Why not wait for the day when believers will be resurrected to be brought to heaven?

Death is the greatest problem that mankind can never solve. Christ the Life has solutions to life. Can you agree that Christ exemplified in the life of Lazarus that He is also concerned about practical aspects and not just spiritual matters?

We know we’ve faith in Christ when we obey Him. Disobedience to God is unbelief and rejection to glorious life. If you want the glorious life you can ever experience in this world and in the next life, God’s commands are guidelines.

Joseph has resolved not to sin against the Lord. By faith, his lifestyle was guided by things pleasing to God. His faith was tested when he was brought against his will into the land of his suffering. And so, what happened to him?

Joseph didn’t plan his career path or how he can get rich and powerful. He just continued to live a lifestyle he knew was pleasing to the Lord. His father Jacob may have taught him how. And, when he named his son Manasseh, he loved to remember that the Lord caused him to forget all the troubles he endured. He also named his son Ephraim to remember that God made him fruitful even in the land where had endured suffering, maltreatment, and homesickness.

After the seven years of abundance, seven years of severe famine came, and people cried to Pharaoh because they were hungry and famished.

2. Famished

53The seven years of abundance in Egypt came to an end, 54and the seven years of famine began, just as Joseph had said. There was famine in all the other lands, but in the whole land of Egypt there was food. 55When all Egypt began to feel the famine, the people cried to Pharaoh for food. Then Pharaoh told all the Egyptians, “Go to Joseph and do what he tells you.”

Joseph has been consistent in his faith and the Lord rewarded him. During severe famine, Joseph had more food supply than he needed while many people starved and famished. Joseph held the keys to store houses of food supplies.

By faith in God, undesirable situations are turned favorable to believers. Pharaoh appointed Joseph prime minister when he sensed that nobody was wiser than Joseph. The God-given wisdom of Joseph was proven superior. How? During the 7 years of abundance, Joseph collected and stored much food available, while everyone enjoyed and did not anticipate the end of abundance.

Such negligence is commonly observed even in this generation. While they are receiving higher salary, they cannot help but to indulge themselves.

Instead of saving for the future or stormy days, we would like to a little bit of relaxation somewhere to reward ourselves. It’s the natural tendency of human to relax a little bit. During relaxing times, most often we forget the Lord.

Have you wondered why King David is considered the greatest king of Israel instead of King Solomon? King David fought many wars and victorious. King Solomon went to war just once during his kingship but there was so much abundance when Solomon was king of Israel yet, his life deteriorated spiritually.

King Solomon testified in Ecclesiastes 2:4-11, 4I undertook great projects: I built houses for myself and planted vineyards. 5I made gardens and parks and planted all kinds of fruit trees in them. 6I made reservoirs to water groves of flourishing trees. 7I bought male and female slaves and had other slaves who were born in my house. I also owned more herds and flocks than anyone in Jerusalem before me. 8I amassed silver and gold for myself, and the treasure of kings and provinces. I acquired male and female singers, and a harem as well—the delights of a man’s heart. 9I became greater by far than anyone in Jerusalem before me. In all this my wisdom stayed with me. 10I denied myself nothing my eyes desired; I refused my heart no pleasure.
My heart took delight in all my labor, and this was the reward for all my toil.11Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun.

To some people abundance of material things is great life but the wise king says, “It’s meaningless!” King David was considered ‘great’ because of his faith in God. Greatness may include but not totally produced by victories or wealth.

Great life is an added bonus to faith in God. Pray for increase of faith.

Well, unless we’ve got wisdom from God like Solomon, we will ignore his wise teachings. But as we grow mature spiritually, we will find out that not from materialism but the greatest life we can ever have is a blessed life in the Lord.

The Lord Jesus said in Matthew 5:6, 6Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

Christ never said, “Blessed are those who have much wealth,” why?

The term ‘filled’ is properly interpreted ‘satisfied.’ Mankind keeps searching for satisfaction but things we crave for don’t count with things that bless us. Why?

What is ‘blessedness?’ ‘Blessedness’ is satisfaction or supreme happiness we can ever experience. And, what is the ‘righteousness’ that blessed people or supremely happy people would thirst for or hunger for? It’s obedience to God.

Joseph had a blessed life. He also had abundance of material things, power and fame. Joseph became famous in the entire ancient world. How? People from other nations came to Egypt and to buy grain from him.

3. Famous

56When the famine had spread over the whole country, Joseph opened all the storehouses and sold grain to the Egyptians, for the famine was severe throughout Egypt. 57And all the world came to Egypt to buy grain from Joseph, because the famine was severe everywhere.

Joseph became famous not just because of his office as prime minister of Egypt but because he secured the keys to store house of food supplies in Egypt. During the years of abundance, they did not bother to come to Joseph. They just obeyed his instruction to collect and store foods. They may have been glad that Joseph was a great administrator because of the abundant food supply he kept.

During tough times, greatness becomes more apparent. We observe that even believers are extra happy and participative when everything is doing great in their life. During calamities that humans cannot prevent, it is easier to identify believers who have matured spiritually and those who haven’t matured yet.

The Psalmists testified in Psalm 73:3ff, 3I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. 4They have no struggles; their bodies are healthy and strong. 5They are free from common human burdens; they are not plagued by human ills… 12This is what the wicked are like—always free of care, they go on amassing wealth…

16When I tried to understand all this, it troubled me deeply 17till I entered the sanctuary of God; then I understood their final destiny. 18Surely you place them on slippery ground; you cast them down to ruin. 19How suddenly are they destroyed, completely swept away by terrors! 20They are like a dream when one awakes; when you arise, Lord, you will despise them as fantasies.

We strive hard to earn more because we want to acquire things that our neighbors have accumulated. Envy is a manipulative force to materialism. Materialism causes believers to slow down spiritually. It says in 1 Timothy 6:10, 10For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

Everyone will accept troubles common to mankind but avoid self-inflicted grief. When we follow the inclination of our hearts, we often put ourselves in trouble. It may not be verbalized, but we may have assumed that things favorable to us are right things to do. But if we are truthful to ourselves, we would admit that the things we crave for are not necessarily right things for us.

Imagine this: Your father is car dealer. He wants you to choose a car you want to drive, and it’s yours. You can register it to your name. No string attached. No condition. It’s free car! What is the right car you would choose for yourself?

Most young people may choose a ‘fancy’ car. They assume that a loud and fast car is the right car for them. Yet most often, fancy cars put them in trouble because loud and fast cars are temptation to drive beyond speed limits and they can easily attract traffic enforcers.

One may comment, “Hey pastor, I heard that you also like fancy cars, right?” True! I like fancy cars because my mind says I’m still young.

Additionally, it’s a normal instinct for young people to be famous among peers.

You want to be famous? We can learn how to be famous in Joshua 6:27, 27So the Lord was with Joshua, and his fame spread throughout the land.

Joshua did not covet fame. He just desired to obey whatever the Lord told him, and the Lord made him famous. Running after fame causes self-inflicted grief. Have you heard a popular singer who asked his followers to pray for him? Fame made him sick. He wanted to quit singing just to live a simple and quiet life.

When popularity comes from the Lord, He will sustain us with everything we need to testify of His goodness. It says in Psalm 37:4, 4Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.

And in Psalm 145:19, 19He fulfills the desires of those who fear him; he hears their cry and saves them.

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