Disillusionment is not a small problem. It happens when we lose perspective. We become ignorant of or doubt the truth. We simply do not know how to interpret a given circumstance. One man, in his fight with God about the existence of suffering and racism said, “A god who can’t stop it has no right to my loyalty or my belief.” Another said, “God is cruel. I can’t believe in Him.” We at times all go through periods of confusion. A better understanding of God and this world will help us through these dark times.
We must admit we are not God. At times we will not have answers. We need to wait upon God. In His time He will show how He is more just, righteous, and compassionate than ourselves. We can trust Him with our concerns. Meanwhile we carry out His will to do what is good and loving. We do not give up what is good because we are confused. The extensive story of Joseph helps us deal with disillusionment. Real individuals: Joseph, Jacob, Judah, and Joseph’s brothers all went through very difficult circumstances. It is much easier to understand big topics like suffering on the individual level rather than very general and superficial ones.
A) Joseph’s Life Testings
"He sent a man before them, Joseph, [who] was sold as a slave. ... Until the time that his word came to pass, The word of the LORD tested him" (Psalm 105:17,19).
The psalmist tells us that the “word of the Lord tested him.” This is exactly what we see here in Genesis. Let us note three kinds of tests.
1) Test of Trust => betrayal & abandonment (Genesis 37)
Situation: How does Joseph bear with the fact that his brothers sold him and almost killed him?
Joseph had a few great dreams, but they were dashed to the ground when his brothers manifested their hatred and jealousy towards him and sold him off as a slave. God hinted at the things God wanted to do through Joseph early in his life, but would Joseph hold onto these words from his dreams as seeds of hope?
When going through difficult times in life, are you able to trust God to fulfill what He wants to accomplish through your life? This is the test. Would Joseph trust God? There are two results. Either a person will be discouraged and self-focused so that he will get bitter at God and depressed (and maybe violent). Or through faith in God’s promises he will trust God that somehow He will grow that seed of faith in time. Joseph did not see his dreams come true until late in life, but when it came, he was ready. Joseph knew it was his special calling to help the world and God’s people through his wise and kind food program. Do you trust your life with the Lord? Even in the difficult times?
2) Test of Pride => extreme ups and downs (Genesis 39-41)
Situation: How does the ‘blessed’ Joseph deal with successive success and imprisonments?
Joseph’s life had extreme ups and downs. God spoke with him. His father adored him. Then he is almost killed and sold off as a slave. This great blessings were followed by disaster time after time. He does his best serving Potiphar as a slave, but in the end in order to preserve his moral purity, he is cast into jail. He helps interpret the cup bearer’s dream but then is forgotten.
In each test he was able to humble himself to his new position, rely on God and faithfully serve Him. He chose to live in fear of the Almighty God in his given circumstance rather than indulge himself with his master’s wife or party in self-pity. The changing circumstances were painful, but he kept focused on serving God wherever he was cast. Do you think you should be treated nicely but find yourself being treated rudely or unjustly? Joseph found himself in this situation several times.
3) Test of Compassion => opportunity for revenge (Genesis 42-50)
Situation: How does the powerful Joseph treat his brothers before and after his father dies?
The third test Joseph faces is privilege and power. It perhaps is the most dangerous. This is the place one can do what he wants in life and no one can hold you back.
What a person does when he is under constraint can be quite different than what he does when he has power and wealth. Power corrupts. Even with all the opportunities for revenge, Joseph stuck firm to his plan. He forgave his evil brothers and was gracious to them. He could have tried to eliminate the painful memories of the past by ridding himself of his brothers and their kin but instead chose to exude God’s tender compassion to his needy brothers. Two levels of grace are seen, before and after his father’s death.
Forgiving and feeding his brothers before his father died(Genesis 42-47)
Forgiving and blessing his brothers after his father died (Genesis 48-50)
This article focuses on the first level of forgiveness seen in Genesis 42-47:12.
Next => Take a look at the twelve incidents that could contribute to disillusionment from the lives of Joseph, his brothers and Jacob his father.