Some may think that living a life with few pains, difficulties or struggles is the greatest blessing to desire from God. It would be great to be kept from the many hardships life loves to throw at us, but if God were to grant this request it would only be a temporary blessing. If I can be so bold, a cheap blessing… a thing that has no effect whatsoever on our growth or has any eternal worth. In the Bible, God clearly favors the poor in spirit, the broken, the persecuted, and the tested with eternal blessings.
My life has been easy. The few trials and testings I’ve faced have been treated like an ugly scar that I point to and tell stories about for the “oohs” and “aahs”. They aren’t the humble testimonies of what God has done, they’re stories for attention. In the moment of truth, when the testing comes, God doesn’t find faith in my heart. He finds the tantrum and questionings of an immature child. In the smallest discomfort I cry out for the temporary blessings of relief, unwilling to walk through them to learn and grow in maturity.
This is what I’m getting at: The blessing that’s of great worth is at the heart of the testings we so despise. It’s what I like to call the Joseph Blessing. So often I’ve wondered, “Why is God allowing this? He should be blessing instead of allowing such pain! This is wrong!”, not knowing that He’s in the process of bestowing the rich blessings of Job and Joseph. When everything is painfully stripped away it is actually a step forward in the process God is working on if we trust Him. This is a rabbit trail here, but it’s key: There are many Jobs and Josephs today stuck half way through the story because they failed to trust God with the end of their story. They didn’t keep their eyes on Him or remain faithful servants when things began to fall apart. The real Joseph stayed true to the task at hand, making no distinction between the jail and the more blessed circumstance he’d tasted. Both came from God, and he kept his eyes on Him even though it didn’t make sense. You know, we’ve always known the end of Joseph’s story. It’s easy to overlook his attitude since we’ve got the whole picture at a glance, but think about his faithfulness for a minute. He had no idea what God was up to, but he trusted Him and kept the focus. Through that, God moved. What about our story? Will we walk through it like Joseph did, trusting that we serve the same God Who deliberately allows hardships for His greater purpose? Or will we give up and be an unfinished story of a miracle? A more sobering thought is, are we going to stop this “developing miracle” in us that God intended to use as a key tool in someone’s life? Working in that jail, Joseph had no idea his little acts of faithfulness would lead to saving two nations from death. Our stories are never just ours. This is especially true for the children of God.
This is going to sound really strange, but here goes: the fact alone that God allows some of His children to suffer is an honor. Why?
God is deeply concerned with our spiritual depth and the well-being of those He desires to reach through us. The maturity, anointing, and communion with Him (as well as the experience level needed to reach some people groups) usually can only be learned in difficulties. God searches for people with faith strong enough to endure these lessons. If it can’t be found in one, He’ll find another. Think of the work force or the military: it’s the strong ones that are depended on for the biggest tasks because the leader knows they can handle it. It’s not punishment. It’s a sign of deep trust. When God presents a trial, it’s a sign of His confidence in our ability to handle it (look at how God literally boasted about Job!). Can you imagine having the confidence of God? So, the greater the confidence, the greater the lesson. The greater the lesson, the greater the assignment and alignment with God. And remember, the great assignments have to do with the most difficult missions that are at the very center of God’s heart: people. It’s not about us! In the work force I felt the most honored when my boss would delegate a very difficult assignment to me as if it were no big deal. It was a huge sign of confidence regarding something that was on their shoulders. How many difficult things does God see and shoulder alone? If He were to train you and give you a part in shouldering the difficult things He cares for so much, wouldn’t it be a huge honor? Why then is it so easy to assume we’re being punished in the training stage? And why in the world does it always have to be about us?
I don’t want the temporary blessings of an easy life. Oh, my flesh wants it for sure. But I’d be devastated if God let me be in my easy life because He couldn’t count on me to handle His training or to handle working with Him in the things He cares about most. I don’t want to miss out on this intimate mission with Jesus. Lord, bless me with the blessings of Joseph! Don’t let me sleep in the faith! I don’t want to settle for a cheap blessing. Train me.