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A Purpose for Struggle

Matt Hagee

All of the years Joseph worked in Potiphar’s house, he was developing administrative skills and a deep understanding of Egyptian culture. In the prison, he rose to a high rank because he was faithful and not rebellious. In all the years and experiences after he left his father’s house, Joseph was growing stronger in character, in understanding, and in wisdom about how to get things done in a godly way in an ungodly world!

Joseph did not know it at the time, but God was preparing him for LEADERSHIP on a scale and in a position Joseph could never have imagined.

If God had fulfilled the dreams to Joseph in a year or two…Joseph would not have been prepared for leadership. He wouldn’t have known what he needed to know. He wouldn’t have had the strength of faith he would need to have. He wouldn’t have had the understanding of Egypt that he needed to have. He would not have understood all that he knew about God’s faithfulness or God’s divine “orchestration” of events and circumstances.

CONSIDER AND DISCUSS

Have you ever had a word from the Lord about what will happen in your future, and then had to struggle for years not seeing any evidence of that word coming to fruition?

Respond to this statement: The way we endure and struggle during the time when there is no evidence of a dream being fulfilled is an indication of how much we will rejoice and be blessed when the dream DOES emerge in reality.

Dreams had resulted in Joseph being sold into slavery. It was a situation involving dreams that got him out of slavery and into Pharaoh’s courtroom!

A great deal happened between the time Joseph was taken into captivity, when he was about seventeen years old, and the moment we come to in the passage of Scripture below. Just prior to these verses, Joseph was released from prison very suddenly. He had interpreted the prophetic dreams of a butler and a baker – and they had come to pass just as he had said they would. The butler remembered Joseph’s ability to interpret dreams and when Pharaoh had a dream that puzzled all of his counselors, Joseph was pulled out of prison, given a shower and proper clothing, and brought into Pharaoh’s chambers. He said to Pharaoh, “It is not me; God will give Pharaoh an answer of peace.” In other words, God would give Pharaoh an answer that gave meaning to the dream.

Joseph then heard the dreams, the first of which was about seven ugly and gaunt cows that ate up seven fine looking and fat cows. In the second dream, Pharaoh had seen seven full and good heads of grain, and seven thin and blighted heads of grain. Joseph told him that these dreams taken together indicated seven years of plenty to be followed by seven years of famine. Joseph didn’t stop there. He also told Pharaoh what he should do – take one-fifth of the produce of the seven plentiful years and store them for a reserve in the seven years of famine.

Pharaoh said, “Can we find such a one as this, a man in whom is the Spirit of God?” And then he answered his own question, saying to Joseph, “Inasmuch as God has shown you all this, there is no one as discerning and wise as you.” He put Joseph in charge over all the land of Egypt, gave him a signet ring from his own hand, and the best chariot in all the land. He also gave Joseph a wife, the daughter of a person in Pharaoh’s royal court. It was a good day for Joseph! (Read Genesis 41:38-45)

GENESIS 41:46-52

Joseph was thirty years old when he stood before Pharaoh king of Egypt. And Joseph went out from the presence of Pharaoh, and went throughout all the land of Egypt. Now in the seven plentiful years the ground brought forth abundantly. So he gathered up all the food of the seven years which were in the land of Egypt, and laid up the food in the cities; he laid up in every city the food of the fields which surrounded them. Joseph gathered very much grain, as the sand of the sea, until he stopped counting, for it was immeasurable.

There is a difference between position and power. Pharaoh had POSITION – he was always “over” Joseph. But Joseph had POWER. From the moment that Pharaoh asked Joseph, “How do we survive the famine that is coming?” Joseph was the one with POWER. He had the answer from God, and those with an answer from God always have tremendous power, certainly so in the spiritual realm.

GENESIS 41:50-52

And to Joseph were born two sons before the years of famine came, whom Asenath, the daughter of Poti-Pherah priest of On, bore to him. Joseph called the name of the firstborn Manasseh: “For God has made me forget all my toil and all my father’s house.” And the name of the second he called Ephraim: “For God has caused me to be fruitful in the land of my affliction.”

God did not erase the hard times Joseph had endured. He did give Joseph new understanding about the struggles. We see this is in the names Joseph gave to the sons:

Manasseh – means “making forgetful.” Joseph realized that he would never have held Manasseh in his arms if he hadn’t gone through the years of struggle.

Ephraim – means “fruitfulness.” Fruitfulness follows forgiveness. It was only after Manasseh was born that Joseph was able to “let go” of the pain in his past, both the pain in his father’s house and the pain in Potiphar’s house and dungeon.

Did Joseph err in taking an Egyptian woman as his wife? The flip side of that is the question, “Did Asenath find redemption through her marriage to Joseph?” The greater truth is that Asenath followed Joseph. Joseph altered her life; she did not alter Joseph’s life.

God has blessings for his people NOW, on this earth, not just in Paradise someday. Joseph fully received and rejoiced in God’s blessings associated with his marriage and sons.

VERSES TO CONSIDER

Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world. You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is the world. (1 John 4:2-4) CONSIDER AND DISCUSS The Bible teaches that we are IN this world, but as Believers in Christ Jesus, we are not OF this world. Is that the way you see your life? Is that the way you live out your life on a daily basis? Have you forgiven all that you need to forgive? Has fruitfulness ever been stalled or thwarted in your life because of your unforgiveness?

CAN YOU SEE WAYS IN WHICH GOD IS CURRENTLY CAUSING YOU TO EXPERIENCE HIS OUTPOURING OF FRUITFULNESS IN YOU AND THROUGH YOU TO OTHERS?

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