Joe Knows AfflictionFebruary 19, 2014
By Joe Smith
"You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives." - Genesis 50:20
To start off we need to clear up one major fact about human nature: Whining and complaining is just what we do. It’s something that is rarely productive and can really bring us down emotionally and spiritually. A sport has a funny way of highlighting many of the things that are just not good for us. Hockey is one of these sports.
The hockey player and complaints
Hockey breeds complaints. It’s life. There is so much adversity that a hockey player faces and it is so easy to complain about it all; coaches, teammates, the opposition, ice conditions, refs. The list could go on and on. There are many times that we may actually be justified in our complaints. In fact, I remember having some injuries on our team when I was a teenager. The coach called up a couple of guys from our affiliate team to help fill the lack of bodies. This was all well and good but, the part that really rattled me was when they were inserted higher in the depth chart than I was! I was on the team all season and they call these guys up to play over me?! I think I spent more time whining and complaining to teammates on the bench then I did playing hockey that night.
My thought process was perfectly correct in my mind. I was treated unfairly. I didn’t like it, and I was going to let everyone know. Obviously, this didn’t change a thing. There have been many people in the Bible that were dealt “unfair” hands in life. Many think of Job as the poster boy for adversity, but I want to focus on another Old Testament character who was familiar with affliction; Joseph.
The life of Joseph
Here’s his rundown: As a teen his father thought the world of Joseph (Genesis 37:3). His brothers were so jealous they sold him and he became a slave to a high ranking Egyptian official (38:28, 36). He then resisted the advances of this official’s wife only to be accused of initiating them in the first place (39:1-18). After being thrown into prison God helped him to interpret the dream of Pharaoh’s cupbearer (40:9-13). Joseph told him that great things would happen to him. He also told the cupbearer to remember him and help him to get out of prison once the dream came to pass (40:14). Of course the cupbearer forgot and Joseph would remain in prison even longer until the king of Egypt would call on him to help interpret his own dreams. However, Joseph would later go on to do amazing things and become a high ranking official in Egypt.
The response of Joseph
Joseph was a man who experienced God’s blessings even in the midst of affliction. It might have been harder to see these blessings in the midst of tough times, but God was certainly with him. Negative situations eventually yielded positive results. One of the great quotes from Joseph comes after he reunites with his brothers. They are trying to make amends for all the trouble they have caused by offering themselves up as his slaves. Most people would have thought it would have been completely normal to take them up on the offer, but instead he says, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives” (Genesis 50:20).
It is great reflecting on the fact that God has mapped out our lives ahead of us. He knows what is best for us. We may have to go through some tough times, but we have no right to complain. Not only do we know God is in control, but we can be so thankful for simply having the breath in our lungs to skate or strength in our arms to shoot a puck.
So, don’t be discouraged by the “bad” things. Rejoice in the fact that we serve a living God who will carry you through all situations in life.
*You can read Joseph’s story here: Genesis 37-38, 39-50.