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The Positive in the Pain

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The Painful Truth

I’m going to talk to myself for a few minutes
I’ve gained a few pounds since I moved here.
My biggest problem is I can’t figure out a workout sked.
The only way I can maintain my weight and keep my heart healthy is by exercising.
It’s especially important given my family history.

The 1st painful truth.

We have to hurt ourselves in order to maintain our health.

Maybe that’s why I haven’t been too motivated.
I really don’t like to exercise, it hurts.
My lungs hurt, my legs hurt, my joints hurt, everything hurts.

The 2nd painful truth.

The pain of exercise is nowhere near as bad as the pain of a heart attack or the pain in my joints from carrying extra pounds up and down my stairs and these hills.

I’ve got to figure this out. B/C this is the way God designed me.
If I will introduce a manageable amount of pain into my life thru diet and exercise I can avoid unmanageable pain.
Now, I’m done talking to myself, I’m sure none of you can relate to my predicament.

3rd Painful truth.

This is not only true of our physical lives, but also spiritual, emotional, and mental health, too.

We stay healthy and grow more mature in all these areas thru painful exercises.
Hebrews 2:10 NIV
In bringing many sons and daughters to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through what he suffered.
Made perfect: Sanctified.
It’s not that Jesus wasn’t already perfect. But the changes He went thru; torture and death; perfectly fulfilled His purpose to save us.
And, as our Leader, He suffered for us. So, when we suffer for Him we can be sure He can help us get thru. We know He’s been thru worse so He can help us get thru our pain, too.
Likewise, when we go thru hard times, they perfect us. The changes we go thru help us fulfill God’s calling in our lives and we can help those behind us get thru, too.
Romans 5:3–4 NIV
Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.
Pain is the only way to produce perseverance, character, and hope.
James 1:2–3 NIV
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.
1 Peter 1:6–7 NIV
In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.
The only way to find out how strong your faith is, is to put it to the test. Once you make it thru, you’ve raised the ceiling on the limit to your ability to find peace and joy in future hard times.
The next time you won’t stress where you stressed the last time. You made it thru once, you will do it again.
This morning we are wrapping up this series, The Founding Fathers of the Faith.
We are at the end of Joseph’s life and we’ll see how the painful suffering he went thru changed him for the better.
Not only had he grown, but he was not bitter, at all. He was able to see the positive in his pain.
When we’re done, I hope that you will be able to see the positive in your pain, too.

The Release

Genesis 45:1–2 NIV
Then Joseph could no longer control himself before all his attendants, and he cried out, “Have everyone leave my presence!” So there was no one with Joseph when he made himself known to his brothers. And he wept so loudly that the Egyptians heard him, and Pharaoh’s household heard about it.
Joseph sobbed. So loud his servants could hear outside.
No doubt, they quickly ran to Pharaoh and reported his number 2 was upset. Something was seriously wrong!
All that pent up emotion. 22 years. Unfair. Enslaved. Imprisoned. Estranged from his father and brothers. Lied about, lied to, innocent.
The brothers had to mis-read the emotional release. They thought he was angry w/ them. Asking everyone to leave the room so he could kill them w/out witnesses.
They couldn’t make the connection between what they had done and what they saw in Joseph in that moment.
That is, until he revealed to them who he really was.
Genesis 45

The Reveal

Genesis 45:3 NIV
Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph! Is my father still living?” But his brothers were not able to answer him, because they were terrified at his presence.
Stunned silence.
Joseph had had a while to process all this. It hit them like a wall of ice cold water.
They had lived the lie for 22 years.
I had a friend, when we were in jr. high, we did some pretty stupid things together. A number of years ago he passed away from a genetic disorder.
I never have to worry about him telling anyone what we did.
There’s a little peace of mind there. I can deal w/ my conscience okay.
Maybe the brothers had convinced themselves that Joseph really was dead and their secret was safe. Ooops.
The brothers, in that moment, realized they were outed. Busted. The lie was a lie. No more hiding it from their father, God, Benjamin, themselves, or anybody else.
A whole new paradigm.
How do they process this? As it sinks in, what does it all mean?

The Realization

Genesis 45:4–15 NIV
Then Joseph said to his brothers, “Come close to me.” When they had done so, he said, “I am your brother Joseph, the one you sold into Egypt! And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you. For two years now there has been famine in the land, and for the next five years there will be no 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. He made me father to Pharaoh, lord of his entire household and ruler of all Egypt. Now hurry back to my father and say to him, ‘This is what your son Joseph says: God has made me lord of all Egypt. Come down to me; don’t delay. You shall live in the region of Goshen and be near me—you, your children and grandchildren, your flocks and herds, and all you have. I will provide for you there, because five years of famine are still to come. Otherwise you and your household and all who belong to you will become destitute.’ “You can see for yourselves, and so can my brother Benjamin, that it is really I who am speaking to you. Tell my father about all the honor accorded me in Egypt and about everything you have seen. And bring my father down here quickly.” Then he threw his arms around his brother Benjamin and wept, and Benjamin embraced him, weeping. And he kissed all his brothers and wept over them. Afterward his brothers talked with him.
Genesis 45:4-15

The brothers

Realized it really was Joseph!
Think about the emotional gymnastics they are going thru.
Thrilled, excited, he’s Joseph!
Wait, we sold him into slavery, abused him, lied.
Conviction, guilt, shame, fear.
Will he retaliate?! Has he forgotten, forgiven?
All this comes flooding over them.


Realized remarkable character.
“Don’t be angry at yourselves.” As if they had completely dealt with this as far as they could w/ God.
He saw beyond their actions to God’s sovereign hand in preparing him and leading him there so that he could save their lives and preserve the promises.
He reassured them. He was the victim and He eased their pain.


Realized he had Joseph’s family near by.
If they were half as wise and blessed as Joseph he had something special in his country. He wanted them close at hand and was thrilled to support Joseph and his family.
Not only did he approve, he improved their situation.
“Leave all your personal items in Canaan. I’ll replace them w/ better ones.”


When Jacob realized it was true he was stunned.
The only thing that could have convinced him was the truckload of gifts.
His sons had been known to lie in order to cover their immoral mistakes. Maybe they stole all this stuff.
For 22 years He had grown accustom to the lie that Joseph was dead. Those gears don’t just shift w/out a little grinding.
But the joy of knowing his favorite son was alive covered, at least for the moment, any emotion of the realization that his sons had lied to him so many years ago. And, they just might have had something to do w/ his disappearance.
But that could be dealt w/ later. Joseph was alive and thriving in Egypt. He would get to see him soon.
So, what are we waiting for? Let’s load up the Dodge Caravan and head to Egypt!

The Reassurance

Genesis 46:1–4 NIV
So Israel set out with all that was his, and when he reached Beersheba, he offered sacrifices to the God of his father Isaac. And God spoke to Israel in a vision at night and said, “Jacob! Jacob!” “Here I am,” he replied. “I am God, the God of your father,” he said. “Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for I will make you into a great nation there. I will go down to Egypt with you, and I will surely bring you back again. And Joseph’s own hand will close your eyes.”
On the way Jacob stopped to worship.
And, God spoke to him and reassured him on 3 things:

I will make you a great nation.

I will go with you into Egypt

I will surely bring you out.

Genesis 46:1-
Part of this is the same as the promise God made Abraham, Isaac, and passed on to Jacob. (Land, descendants, blessing)
A time is coming when Israel will question whether or not God will keep his promises. They will have descendants, but be mired in slavery in Egypt and a blessing to no one.
Genesis 46:26–27 NIV
All those who went to Egypt with Jacob—those who were his direct descendants, not counting his sons’ wives—numbered sixty-six persons. With the two sons who had been born to Joseph in Egypt, the members of Jacob’s family, which went to Egypt, were seventy in all.
70 people went into Egypt
Exodus 12:40 NIV
Now the length of time the Israelite people lived in Egypt was 430 years.
Exodus 12:
Exodus 12:37–38 NIV
The Israelites journeyed from Rameses to Sukkoth. There were about six hundred thousand men on foot, besides women and children. Many other people went up with them, and also large droves of livestock, both flocks and herds.
430 years later, 600,000 men, + women, children, and many others came out.
Egypt became concerned that the growth of the Hebrews would threaten their way of life so they enslaved them.
So in the midst of the pain and suffering of slavery, do you think the story of Joseph would be an encouraging one to the Israelis suffering in slavery in Egypt?
No doubt there was a time when they wondered if God had forgotten them.
Why would He leave them there so long and in such dire straights?
Why did Jesus wait 3 days after Lazarus had died.
In both cases God could have shown up earlier and prevented what turned out to be painful experiences for His people.

However, likewise, in both cases, He waited in order to show greater glory and power to influence the world to believe in Him and follow.
Whatever suffering Mary and Martha and Israel experienced during these times, it has been far exceeded by their peace and joy in heaven. And, in the process it has led many others to believe and join them there.
Joseph’s story has been an encouragement since the day it all happened.
So, let’s get back to his story.

The Reunion

Genesis 46:28–30 NIV
Now Jacob sent Judah ahead of him to Joseph to get directions to Goshen. When they arrived in the region of Goshen, Joseph had his chariot made ready and went to Goshen to meet his father Israel. As soon as Joseph appeared before him, he threw his arms around his father and wept for a long time. Israel said to Joseph, “Now I am ready to die, since I have seen for myself that you are still alive.”
What a sweet moment this was for both.
Jacob believed he could die a contented man now.
He was completely satisfied. The only one missing from this scene was Joseph’s mother, Rachel. That would have made it perfect for him.
He was 130 years old on this day. He would live another 17 years, to 147.
He could enjoy Joseph’s family and watch all of his grandchildren, great grand children and great-greats grow up.
Then, the inevitable arrived. Jacob died. He was now completely at peace.
His sons, however, grew fearful again...

The Reiteration

Genesis 50:15–24 NIV
When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “What if Joseph holds a grudge against us and pays us back for all the wrongs we did to him?” So they sent word to Joseph, saying, “Your father left these instructions before he died: ‘This is what you are to say to Joseph: I ask you to forgive your brothers the sins and the wrongs they committed in treating you so badly.’ Now please forgive the sins of the servants of the God of your father.” When their message came to him, Joseph wept. His brothers then came and threw themselves down before him. “We are your slaves,” they said. But Joseph 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. So then, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children.” And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them. Joseph stayed in Egypt, along with all his father’s family. He lived a hundred and ten years and saw the third generation of Ephraim’s children. Also the children of Makir son of Manasseh were placed at birth on Joseph’s knees. Then Joseph said to his brothers, “I am about to die. But God will surely come to your aid and take you up out of this land to the land he promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.”

The brothers feared

They were afraid he hadn’t really forgiven them, it was only an act for their father.
Why would they be so concerned?
While they had changed quite a bit, they still struggled w/ their old way of life.
Simply, they would have seriously considered retaliating if it were them.
They were projecting their thoughts and ideas on Joseph.
They has maintained the lie about Joseph for 22 years so they assumed Joseph could maintain a lie about how he felt about them for a while.
They also didn’t understand grace.
From the beginning, God chose Abraham just b/c he wanted to choose Abraham. Abraham did do nothing, could do nothing to be considered worthy of God’s choice.
Likewise, the brothers could do nothing to earn God’s, or Joseph’s forgiveness.
It was apparent they didn’t understand this b/c they were afraid they hadn’t done enough themselves to be worthy of his complete forgiveness.
But, they couldn’t do enough. Joseph had forgiven them, not because they were worth it. But, b/c he understood the grace with which God treated him so he was able to apply it to his situation w/ his brothers.
But, Joseph wasn’t them. They still had a ways to go to match the maturity and trustworthiness of him.

Joseph was hurt

The questioned his character and his commitment to them.
They wondered if he was trustworthy.
Remember, trust is based on 2 things:
Honesty: Has Joseph told the whole truth about how he feels about his brothers now.
Integrity: Will his actions match his words.
Or, was he only committed to caring kindly for his brothers as long as their father was alive. Now, he’d look for revenge and not be concerned with hurting his father b/c he’s gone.
They were wrong to be afraid. Joseph was trustworthy.

He was over it

He had long since forgiven them. He had given up the ideas of personal revenge and put the responsibility for making everything right in the hands of God.
He would do it perfectly.
By doing so he was able to see the purpose of it all.
He saw the positive in his pain.
Years enslaved, years in prison, years estranged from his family had led him to this conclusion.
Genesis 50:19
“You intended it for harm, but God intended it for good.”
Genesis 50:19–21 NIV
But Joseph 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. So then, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children.” And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them.
He was able to see passed his self-centered, immoral brothers to a sovereign God who had a plan all along to get him prepared, into Egypt, and in a position to save the lives of all Egyptians and Israel.
He had the character () to treat his brothers graciously.
He persevered (, ) thru it all and came out a strong, healthy, faithful leader of our faith.
He had the faith () that God would fulfill all the promises He had made to His family.
He had the hope () that God would surely, eventually, lead their descendants out of Egypt and back to the promised land.
He had the maturity () to speak kindly to his brothers after all this.
Joseph’s life should be an encouragement to us to see the positive things happening inside of us as we go thru hard times.
The same things that were developing in him, are developing in us.


No Vacuum

There are unique aspects to every situation you are in. But, don’t believe that no one understands b/c no has had as bad as you.
Hebrews 4:15–16 NIV
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
We don’t suffer in a vacuum. Jesus has been where you are. In fact, He’s been worse.
He still came out in great shape. He will show you the way. Let Him.
Others have been where you are. Be encouraged by them. They made it thru okay, too.
And, there will be those who are going to end up someday where you are right now.
Be in a place where you can encourage them.


Understand grace. Own it, accept it, apply it.
Some of us still live our lives thinking we owe God something and should do more b/c of what He has done for you.
Maybe we can demonstrate gratitude for Jesus dying for us.
We can’t. There is nothing we can do to make Jesus feel any better about the suffering He went thru for us, nor is there anything we can do to make it easier for God to forgive us.
So, by embracing this, we are better able to apply God’s grace to people who hurt us.
Forgiveness is unconditional.
Truth is, even when people apologize it’s no easier to let it go.
You’ll be healthier when you embrace God’s grace for yourself and then can pass it along.

See Passed the People

See passed the people who hurt you and recognize God’s sovereign hand in the circumstances in your life.
There is a lot of good that comes from stressing our bodies.
That couldn’t be from the Enemy. He wants no good for us.
God, however, will lead us into hard times.
He won’t leave us there, but lead us all the way thru.
And, we’ll be changed for the better once we come thru.
Find the positive in the pain in your life. I will turn out for your good.
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