Saturday, July 19, 2008

Chapter 41 - The Cycle

A few weeks ago, my counselor Chuck asked my men's group a simple question:

"How did Joseph break the dysfunction that had hurt his family for generations?"

I honestly had never thought about that. I believed that from Abraham down to Joseph was a long line of pure holiness, but I was wrong.

Abraham lied and prostituted his wife. Not once, but twice. He doubted God's ability to provide a child so severely that he started another family with his maidservant Hagar. Isaac repeated the same mistake by whoring out his wife too. He also created a household where he had a favorite son and his wife had a different favorite son. He was not renamed by God. My friend Tim pointed that out. His father Abraham received a new name. His son Jacob did too, but not Isaac. Jacob and Esau were a mess, with Jacob stealing Esau's birthright and then using his family as a buffer against his brother's vengeance. Jacob then proceeds to repeat his father's mistake by creating a favorite son, Joseph.

One can only wonder what would have happened to Joseph if he had stayed in that environment. Have you ever met someone that is coddled and doted on and protected from every problem in the world? Have you ever met a spoiled child you admired? It is hard to believe that the third generation dysfunction of Isaac could have raised a new generation of holiness in Joseph. So what happened? How did Joseph turn out into an awe-inspiring man of God in charge of Egypt?

He suffered. He was sold into slavery. He spent years in a dungeon. He hit his bottom and found God waiting to lift him up. He was refined by the trials and tribulations of his life.

I do not like suffering. I do not like hard times or wish them upon anyone. I think God works through blessings and that going through suffering is not the answer to all of life's challenges. But in my 32 years, I cannot dismiss the clarity of God's voice when all other distractions are removed from my life in the middle of a crisis.

And though we're jumping ahead, I want to look at periods of pain like Job did in chapter 23: 9-10:

When he is at work in the north, I do not see him;
when he turns to the south, I catch no glimpse of him.
But he knows the way that I take;
when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold.

"How did Joseph break the dysfunction that had hurt his family for generations?"

He came forth as gold.


Campman62 said...

"...He knows the *way that I take..." [Job 23:10]

Thanks for the strong medicine to go along w/my coffee this a.m.

(I'm a former-catholic & a member of a very dysfunctional alcoholic/bi-polar family.)

*"The Way" that He led me away from my past has been a liberating means of escape. ("Joseph-style")

Although w/many trials & tribulations similar to Joseph, my life as a Child of the King is allowing me to "Come Forth as Pure Gold". ~AMEN~

P.S. When I see you in Heaven, just call me, "Joe". :D

<>< Phil 1:3 ><>

Blog me:

dorothy (vicar of vibe) said...

It reminds me of the “refiner’s fire”
I would never change anything that has happened to me. Or even turn back the “stupid” choices I have made through out my life… none of them.
For I have learned this truth, “in every adversity, there is a seed of equal or greater benefit”.

I pray that I make wiser, Godlier choices in my life.
God doesn’t offer us a life free of suffering. His goal is to make us more like Him.

No one “wants” to suffer, but if it molds me to be more like Him, bring the fire…
I pray that I come forth as gold.

katdish said...

The idea of life struggles and how we handle them has been on my mind quite a bit lately. I have a 10 and 6 year old. I'm glad to be raising them in the church, but I often wonder if I'm being overprotective of them. My hope is that they will never be hurt or have to suffer. As I type that statement I realize how ridiculous it is. My husband and I will have to sit on our hands over the next few years and allow our kids to suffer through much of the pain of adolescence. If we try to protect them, we end up hurting them in the long run. But seeing your kids hurt really sucks, and all the great parenting advice I had before I had kids is really coming back to bite me in the arse.

sara said...

Wow. That was one of the most insightful things I've read in a while. Praise God for what He shows you. Thank you.

Seized by Hope said...

Thought provoking post. I'd like to hear more from you about what you see "coming forth as gold" looking like. Dipping into the dysfunctional mess of Joseph's life left me hoping for more of your thoughts there.

Plenty of people suffer and emerge as perpetual victims, or as controlling steamrollers, or world class rescuers. Joseph emerged as a leader with a story who was willing to speak truth and test the repentance of his family before restoring his relationships with them.

Patricia said...

Joseph changed his dysfunctional "family tree" from being like Jacob to something else. My question is "who was his model?"

The prison warden perceived something in Joseph. He trained Joseph to be in charge. I had never seen this before.

Anonymous said...

Awesome post. My wife and I have discussed much of this in the past. It is amazing how we have grown up to see Abraham so holy - yet he obviously had problems. Kinda makes him human, doesn't it?

It is so true that we feel more connected with God after deep struggles in our lives. We don't always recognize him during the struggle - but afterwards it is crystal clear. He was with us the entire time!

Anonymous said...

That absolutely resonates with me. I never thought about Joseph that way, but it is very comforting. Job 23:10 has been a special verse for me in my life as I've realized that the crazy circumstances I was born into merely served as the Refiner's fire. Thanks, Jon!

Megs said...

Thank you for the perspective. i've just been through a two year "season" (thanks, SCL!) that was definitely full of lessons and trials . . . and this response is how i hope to answer it. My focus is to learn and draw closer . . . as a result. Thanks for reminding me of this role model. Thanks for writing. :)

Anonymous said...

I already feel the urge to protect my toddler from the realities of her life, but this has reminded me that a little hardship can be good in the long run. I know everything I've gone through in my life has made me stronger. I can only pray the same will be true for her. I see so many people who fall into the role of victim and never get past that. Maybe the difference is God.