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Mar 26, 2023

The Trouble with Trouble Part 3

The Trouble with Trouble Part 3

Speaker: Dennis Gallaher

Category: Sunday Morning

Can our troubles in life have a second cause?

When we look at the heroes of the Bible, we see that they all had trouble in their lives. Trouble even being the main ingredient in their lives. Joseph, the 2nd youngest and favorite son of Jacob, was hated by his 10 older brothers. They sold him into slavery and spent most of 13 years in a dungeon in Egypt. Then a divine deliverance happened that took Joseph from the dungeon to second in command of all of Egypt. Last week we covered a lot of his troubles up to that point. 

The Holy Spirit wants us to see our lives, our struggles, our triumphs, and our failures through this wonderful lens of God's Word. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 The whole Bible was given to us by inspiration from God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives; it straightens us out and helps us do what is right. It is God’s way of making us well prepared at every point, fully equipped to do good to everyone. (The Living Bible) Verse 17 The scriptures are the comprehensive equipment of the man of God and fit him fully for all branches of his work. (J.B.Phillips) 

There is a well-known and common personality trait these days called "being a victim." Many people are true victims but this personality trait is about those individuals that claim the lifestyle of a victim rather than taking personal responsibility. Traits of a victim mentality by secular phycologists are: reacting to small things in a big way, feeling that everyone has it easier than them, placing blame on people or circumstances when things go wrong, not embracing personal responsibility, being overly critical of oneself and others, self-sabotage, hanging with people who think this way.

If anyone has a right to be a victim, it was Joseph. He was a true victim. 1) Do you have a lousy family? Joseph's brothers sold him into slavery and then told his dad that he was dead. 2) Have people abused you, taken advantage of you? Joseph was sexually assaulted and then blamed for the assault. 3) Have you been unfairly judged? Joseph was thrown into a dungeon and left to die because of his race and status. 4) Have people made promises to you and not kept them? That is what happened to Joseph. Joseph was truly a victim! Abused, physically tormented, racially profiled, abandoned, sexually assaulted, accused, falsely imprisoned... He began with a dream and ended in a dungeon.

Something made a difference in Joseph's life. It was not self-motivation, not having the right book or counselor, not good luck. Genesis 39:2 And the Lord was with Joseph... Verse 3 Now his master saw that the Lord was with him... Verse 21 But the Lord was with Joseph... Verse 23 because the Lord was with him; and, the Lord made whatever he did prosper. Joseph was successful because he never forgot that God was with him. People could see that something was different about him.

Others knew the same: Abraham, David, Hezekiah, Enoch, Noah, Isaiah saw Him, Moses was his friend, 12 nobodies became His companions on the Earth... God wants to be a part of our lives more than we want Him to be a part. No matter what is going on - tragedy, circumstances or trouble - when we know Jesus then God is with us. God wants to take whatever we have to give Him and use it for His glory and for our benefit.

A big lie for some is being a victim of the past. Did Joseph think that way? No, instead he declared that God was with him. Is God with me? Is God with you? God has great things planned for you. 2 great promises... John 6:37 All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out. Ezekiel 36:26 Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.

Going to church, knowing about Jesus, and knowing the Bible stories does not mean that Jesus is our God or that God is with us. So how do we know we belong to God?

  • We have accepted His sacrifice for our sin and guilt. We have stopped trying to pay for it or earn it on our own.
  • We have accepted His Lordship in practicing and submitting to Him as we do what His Word says to do. It means we learn to live as a disciple of Jesus.

Accept Jesus on His terms and live with Him in His freedom... He is the God who is with us and He is the God of the second cause. 

Back to Joseph being promoted to second in command of all of Egypt... He becomes successful, prosperous, and married with 2 kids. Their names are Manasseh (means God has made me forget) and Ephraim (means God has made me fruitful).

But God had a second cause, a greater cause in store for Joseph. In Genesis 42, Joseph's brothers show up after all of these years. All of the area was in a famine and went to Egypt and to Joseph to request grain. Joseph recognizes them but they don't recognize him. The first thing they did was bow down to him. Remember the dream? Joseph torments them as he struggles to get even and yet honor God. Genesis 45 As the brothers come back to Joseph for more grain and food, Joseph finally reveals himself to them. Verse 4-5 Then Joseph said to his brothers, “Please come closer to me.” And they came closer. And he said, “I am your brother Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt. Now do not be grieved or angry with yourselves, because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life. Verse 7-8 God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant in the earth, and to keep you alive by a great deliverance. Now, therefore, it was not you who sent me here, but God. 

God had a second cause. God wanted to use Joseph's life. God wants to use our lives, no matter what our story or tragedy is. God wants to use every one of us to preserve eternal life in someone else. 

  • God has a reason for the struggle!
  • There is a divine purpose in the pain!
  • God doesn't waste anything!
  • Suffering is never for nothing!

The second cause was so much more than Joseph could imagine. There is more to the story. Joseph is reunited with his father and his family. At the end of the story, Joseph says to his brothers, Genesis 50:20 As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive. 

Romans 8:28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. God will take what we give Him and cause all things to work for good. What is the good? to preserve many people alive; to lead other people to Christ; to bring others to the gospel. We are not victims but we are instruments of God's amazing grace. Isaiah 54:16 Behold, I Myself have created the smith who blows the fire of coals and brings out a weapon for its work. God has a second cause in our pain. Don't be a victim. God is with us.

Joseph said he was "sent ahead." We are sent ahead of our kids, in our neighborhood, business, school... God is with us for the second cause. 

Have you experienced fighting the victim mentality to giving your suffering to God?

Where have you seen a second cause come to fruition?

How would you help someone that is a true victim like Joseph receive God’s help?