When Troubles Overwhelm

5 December 2021 PM – Genesis 39 – Ge2021 – Scott Childs
Introduction: Think of the grief and emotional pain that Joseph experienced as he was tied up and transported to Egypt. He was the only son of Jacob who had been faithful to the Lord. He tried to do right, and now the Lord allowed his brothers to sell him into slavery. With no hope of ever seeing home or family again, he became the property of Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, a captain of the guard. Joseph had to learn a new language and a new lifestyle. He had no freedom. He had no Bible. All that he knew about God was what he learned in his youth. He could easily have turned bitter, but he chose to remain faithful to God and to work diligently.
            While Genesis 39 is about Joseph’s slavery, his purity and his imprisonment, I believe the main purpose of this chapter is to teach us about God’s interaction with those who are faithful to Him. If we keep our hearts close to God, live pure lives, and work diligently, we can be sure that God will interact with us as He did with Joseph.
Transition: Note with me how God interacts with His faithful children.
  1. God allows trials in the lives of His faithful
a.         God allows trials of hardships
1)         Joseph was a slave. He suffered emotionally. In many respects, his life was miserable and hopeless.
2)         God was not chastening Joseph for something he had done wrong. We know this because God was with him and for him. God was not working against him.
3)         Trials in our lives take on many forms. They may include the loss of work, long work hours, difficult decisions, rebellious children or physical limitations. You may have an unreasonable boss. The Covid virus is a very real trial. You may have a difficult marriage. Your car may require major repairs.
4)         No trial is pleasant, but God allows all trials that come. God never promised that life would be a bed of roses.
b.         God allows trials of temptations
1)         Joseph was a single young man in the prime of his life. He had the same hormonal drives as young men today.
2)         God allowed Potiphar’s wife to tempt him sexually day after day. She made her appeal as strong as she could.
3)         We too face many temptations. The apostle James tells us that we each have our OWN lusts. (Jas 1:14) “But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.” Your OWN lusts may be sensual, you may lust for more money, you may desire to control your spouse, lusts may be for unhealthy food, or they may be for popularity and acceptance. If you are still living at home, your lust may be to do as you please and be your own boss. Lusts come in many forms.
4)         God never tempts us to do evil, but He does allow temptations in our lives. When Potiphar’s sensual wife tempted Joseph day by day, he remained firm (v.8-9). When she grabbed his coat and thought she had trapped him, he fled (v.12). If we do as Joseph did and flee temptation, we may continue to be faithful to God.
c.          God allows trials of injustice
1)         That wicked woman lied about Joseph, and his master put him in prison. That was unjust. Joseph had been faithful to God and to his master, yet she had incriminated him.
2)         If you have been cheated, abused, mistreated, lied about, or in some other way treated unjustly, you are in good company with Joseph.
3)         Why would God allow such injustice? For Joseph, it was part of God’s plan for moving that Hebrew teen lad from the paddocks of Israel to the office of PM of Egypt. For you, God may be preparing you for a special ministry or so that you can empathise and encourage others who have suffered in similar ways. God makes no mistakes!
2.        God will not forsake His faithful
a.         God will be with us during hardships (v.2)
1)         You ought to highlight the phrase, “the LORD was with” in this chapter. You will find it in verses 2, 3, 21, 23.
2)         God was with Joseph during all of his hardships. God had not forsaken him. It is true that sometimes God uses hardships as chastening when a believer gets out of line, but that was not the case with Joseph.
3)         If you are a child of God, no matter what hardships you may face God will never forsake you. He makes several promises to that end.
a)         To Israel just before Moses died, God said, (Deut 31:6) “Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the LORD thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.
b)         (Ps 27:10) “When my father and my mother forsake me, then the LORD will take me up.
c)         (Heb 13:5) “Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.
d)         At the end of Romans 8, God assures us that nothing can separate a believer from God’s love.
b.         God will be with us during injustice (v.21)
1)         God was with Joseph when he was unjustly sent to prison (v.21). In his prison cell, God showed him mercy and gave him favour in the sight of the keeper. God caused the keeper to promote Joseph to assistant warden (v.22).
2)         When you are enduring an injustice that seems so unfair, you must not forget that God is with you. Instead of becoming bitter, draw close to God. Look for ways to please the Lord through the injustice He has allowed.
3.        God blesses His faithful
a.         God will bless what we do
1)         God specifically mentions His blessing on Joseph in v.5. However, He also tells us in v.3 and v.23 that He made all that Joseph did to prosper. Whether Joseph was working for his master or helping the warden in prison, God blessed his work.
2)         If we live faithfully for the Lord, God will bless us. God may bless us with bargains. He may bless us with health. He may bless our vegetable gardens with produce. He may bless us with joy in witnessing, etc.
b.         We may not see God’s blessing for a time.
1)         Some of Joseph’s blessings were immediate. People around him noticed. Potiphar saw that God was with Joseph, and he promoted him. I wonder if people who interact with us can see God’s blessings in our lives?
2)         Joseph’s greatest blessings came after thirteen years. He probably recognised some of God’s blessings during his slave years. He no doubt noticed some of God’s blessings during his prison years. However, when Pharaoh released him from prison at age 30, and promoted to PM of Egypt, then God’s greatest blessings began to surface. He said,
a)         (Gen 45:5) “Now therefore be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither: for God did send me before you to preserve life.
b)         (Gen 45:8) “So now it was not you that sent me hither, but God: and he hath made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house, and a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt.
c)         (Gen 50:20) “But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.
3)         Someday, God may bless you with opportunities to encourage others by your experiences. Your testimony may draw a sinner to Christ. Your faithfulness may stir the hearts of your children to live for the Lord.
4)         On the other hand, you may not see God’s blessings for your faithfulness during hardships, temptations and injustices in this lifetime, but God has not forgotten. (1Cor 15:58) “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.
Conclusion: We have seen in Joseph’s life how God interacts with His faithful children. (Review). If troubles threaten to overwhelm you, take a closer look at God’s character during Joseph’s trials. If you remain faithful to the Lord, you can expect God to treat you as he did Joseph.
Song: When We See Christ – 149