Lord, why am I suffering? What is the purpose of these afflictions and adversities? Why are you allowing these trials, troubles, and tribulations to ravage my life?
Is that your prayer?
Joseph, the son of Jacob, must have begged God, saying, why are you allowing me to suffer? The seventeen-year-old Joseph had been kidnapped by his ten older brothers and then sold to Midianite slave traders. His life was worth only a few pieces of silver! In Egypt he was sold again, this time to Potiphar, the captain of the Pharoah’s royal guard, where he became a lowly house-hold servant. Though he worked hard and was faithful to his master, when he was falsely accused, he was thrown into prison. In the dark and dingy dungeon, he cried out, why Lord?
As a foreigner in an Egyptian prison, he was mistreated by his captors and cursed by other inmates, but Joseph was a model prisoner. Surely, he deserved time-off for good behavior! When he helped the royal cupbearer, he expected him to put in a good word with the boss. Nope. He was forgotten. Forgotten! Week after week, month after month Joseph languished with no relief. Abused, neglected, hated, he pleaded with the Almighty. Why Lord?
After thirteen years, God plucked him out of the muck and mire and incredibly, miraculously, elevated the thirty-year-old Hebrew to become the Prime Minister of Egypt. You remember the story.... When his brothers came to Egypt to buy grain, Joseph revealed his identity and explained God’s purpose. “ ‘I am Joseph, your brother,’ he said, ‘the one you sold into Egypt. And now don’t be grieved or angry with yourselves for selling me here, because God sent me ahead of you to preserve life... God sent me ahead of you to establish you as a remnant within the land and to keep you alive by a great deliverance. Therefore it was not you who sent me here, but God’ ” (Genesis 45:4–8). “You planned evil against me; God planned it for good to bring about the present result—the survival of many people”(Genesis 50:20).
For thirteen grueling years, Joseph suffered. That was God’s sovereign plan. God allowed Joseph to endure sheer agony to position him and equip him for ministry.
Paul explained it this way. “The Father of mercies and the God of all comfort ... comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any kind of affliction, through the comfort we ourselves receive from God” (2 Corinthians 1:4)
Why did you lose your job? Maybe you are being positioned and equipped to minister to others who have lost their jobs. Why have you suffered the loss of a loved one? Maybe God will use you to comfort others who grieve.
Sometimes God uses trials to discipline. At other times the Lord may allow suffering as an opportunity to strengthen our faith. And at yet other times, God may be positioning and equipping for ministry. So try this. The next time you face difficulties, ask the Lord to reveal His Divine purpose. As you thank Him for the suffering (1 Thessalonians 5:17, James 1:2), pray and search the Scriptures, then patiently wait for God to reveal His perfect plan.
All Scripture quotations, except as otherwise noted, are from
Holman Bible Publishers’ Christian Standard Bible.