“A Man For All Seasons”
|From the FB page of Christ Commission Fellowship|
Ever wondered why you are going through what you are going through? Are you thinking they are just random events in your life? Or, if you believe that God orchestrated them, that He was just toying with you? That the Lord was playing dice with your life?
In the opening night of the Global Discipleship Congress last Wednesday, January 27, 2016, Dr. Ravi Zacharias (one of Christianity’s most famous Christian apologists and author of more than 20 books like “Why Jesus?” and “Can Man Live Without God?”) said, “Pain is a real part of life.”
In his talk, “A Man For All Seasons,” Ravi expounded on the life of Joseph the dreamer, a man who was not a stranger to pain. He pointed out that Joseph went through seasons in his life that brought out his character. And we will go through these seasons as sure as we go through summer, rain and more rain here in the Philippines.
Joseph did not come from an ideal family. Jacob his father stole the birthright from his elder brother Esau. Joseph and his siblings were born from four women. His father was a liar and his brothers followed suit. They even sold Joseph to slavery and faked his death. Talk about a dysfunctional family! But as an slave in Egypt, Joseph rose from the ranks. His master trusted him with everything.
His master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord caused all that he did to succeed in his hands. So Joseph found favor in his sight and attended him, and he made him overseer of his house and put him in charge of all that he had. … and because of him he had no concern about anything but the food he ate. (Genesis 39:3-4, 6b)
Everything. Except his wife of course. But “after a time his master’s wife cast her eyes on Joseph and said, ‘Lie with me.’” (v. 7) Joseph’s response revealed that, as Ravi pointed out, he “was a man of character because of the grounding of his belief in his season of temptation.”
But he refused and said to his master's wife, “Behold, because of me my master has no concern about anything in the house, and he has put everything that he has in my charge. He is not greater in this house than I am, nor has he kept back anything from me except you, because you are his wife. How then can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?” (vv. 8-9. Emphasis added.)
Ultimately, more than having a debt to gratitude to his earthly master, Joseph recognized that he was accountable to God Himself.
|'Joseph and Potiphar's Wife', Properzia de Rossi, circa 1520. Image credit|
If we think the only good things would happen when we tread the righteous path we are so wrong in our expectations. Joseph was framed up for attempted rape. Yet, as a prisoner, he once again rose from the ranks.
But the Lord was with Joseph and showed him steadfast love and gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison. And the keeper of the prison put Joseph in charge of all the prisoners who were in the prison. Whatever was done there, he was the one who did it. The keeper of the prison paid no attention to anything that was in Joseph’s charge, because the Lord was with him. And whatever he did, the Lord made it succeed. (vv. 21-23. Emphasis added.)
He did not brood in prison. Even when it appeared that he would be there in prison for life. He made the most of his situation. He turned the proverbial lemon that life threw at him to lemonade. Thus, according to Ravi, “Joseph was a man of character because of the guarantee of his peace in his season of pain.” He did not allow his circumstances to define his character. He defined his circumstances with his character.
Later on, God gave Joseph the wisdom to interpret the Pharaoh’s dreams. He became the prime minister of Egypt. Then, because of a worldwide drought, Joseph met his brothers again. He could have taken his sweet revenge against them. We would have understood him. After all, they sold him to slavery. Finally, vengeance was in his hands.
But, Ravi explained, “Joseph was a man of character because of the generosity of his spirit in his season of power.” He loved his family and even made their lives comfortable in Egypt. Some may think that he did it because of his father Jacob. Yet even when his father died, Joseph was generous to his brothers.
His brothers also came and fell down before him and said, “Behold, we are your servants.” But Joseph said to them, “Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. So do not fear; I will provide for you and your little ones.” Thus he comforted them and spoke kindly to them. (50:18-21. Emphasis added.)
Joseph acknowledged the hand of God in all the seasons of life that he went through. Like him, we will all surely go through various seasons in life. What would make the difference is the way we respond to it. Would we respond in faith to God’s sovereignty like Joseph or would we question Him for allowing these seasons?
At the end of his talk, Ravi drew a parallel between Joseph and the Lord Jesus Christ. (Scholars call that a “typology.”) He concluded with these words:
They gave our Lord a cross, not knowing He will make it into a throne. He did not conquer in spite of evil. He conquered through it.Brothers and sisters, let us become men and women for all seasons.