Devotions, Encouragement, General Devotions

A Purpose for the Pain–Seeing the Big Picture within the Mess

“Israel said to Joseph, ‘Your brothers, you know, are pasturing the flocks at Shechem. Get ready. I’m sending you them.” Genesis 37:13

“[His brothers] saw [Joseph] in the distance, and before he had reached them, they plotted to kill him. They said to one another, ‘Here comes that dreamer! Come on, let’s kill him and throw him into one of the pits. We can say that a vicious animal ate him. Then we’ll see what becomes of his dreams!’ When Reuben heard this, he tried to save him from them. He said, ‘Let’s not take his life.’ Reuben also said to them, ‘Don’t shed blood. Throw him into this pit in the wilderness, but don’t lay a hand on him’ –intending to rescue him from their hands and return him to his father. When Joseph came to his brothers, they stripped off his robe, the robe of many colors that he had on. Then they took him and threw him into the pit. “ Genesis 37:18-24
“When Midianite traders passed by, his brothers pulled Joseph out of the pit and sold him for 20 pieces of silver to the Ishmaelites, who took Joseph to Egypt.” Genesis 37:28

“Then Joseph said to his brothers, “Please, come near me,” and they came near. ‘I am Joseph, your brother,’ he said, ‘the one you sold into Egypt. And now don’t be worried or angry with yourselves for selling me here, because God sent me ahead of you to preserve life. For the famine has been in the land these two years, and there will be five more years without plowing or harvesting. God sent me ahead of you to establish you as a remnant within the land and to keep you alive by a great deliverance. Therefore it was not you who sent me here, but God.” Genesis 45:4-8

“You planned evil against me; God planned it for good to bring about the present result—the survival of many people.” Genesis 50:20

Changing Focus

Have you ever seen those “Magic Eye*” pictures? At first glance, they look like a total mess and don’t seem to make any sense. But, when you change your focus, you can make out a pretty cool picture among the seemingly senseless design.

When bad things happen in our lives, it is easy to see only the senseless mess, but if we change our focus, what else will we be able to see?

The last couple of years I have been crippled by a negative situation in my life. Something that happened that caused me a great amount of grief and I just could not seem to heal from the wound.

Lately, though, I started to realize if I changed my focus, I could see the good that came out of it. There was a “big picture” that came into view when I changed my focus. A picture of a God Who wastes nothing and can use even our most painful moments for good. He redeems the bad, the ugly and the painful and turns it into something wonderful and useful.

As I changed my focus, healing began to occur, because I could see there was a purpose to the pain, there was good that came from it.

It wasn’t wasted.

Soon, I started looking at the other painful times in my life and counted the ways God brought good in those circumstances, as well.

Poor Joseph

As I did this, I couldn’t help but think of the life of Joseph.* That dude just could not cut a break, could he? Most of his brothers wanted to kill him and would have done so had one brother not spoken up. Instead of death, Joseph is sold into slavery by his own brothers. Bad enough, right? But, it was only the beginning of a series of bad circumstances for Joseph. God used those bad times to grow Joseph’s character and to provide the training he would need later to save God’s people from starving.

Joseph ultimately saw God’s hand in all of the terrible things that had happened and he tells his brothers as much.

God brings good out of bad in our lives too!

What about us? Can we look back over the bad and see how God used it for good? I am trying to do that and, though, I am at the beginning of this practice, I feel it has already brought healing to my brokenness, simply by seeing how God redeemed the pain so it could have a purpose in my life and in my ministry.

God doesn’t waste our pain and He doesn’t take it for granted. The “big picture” is what He sees from the beginning, never the broken mess.

How has He used your pain? Did He use it to bring you closer to Him? Did the experience make you stronger or more compassionate? Did it make you sensitive to others going through similar circumstances?

Squint your eyes, change your focus and see the beautiful “picture” that appears out of your pain. I pray you will find healing there, as I am.

Precious Jesus, we do not like going through hard times. They hurt and but they bring us to our knees and there we find You, ever faithful, ever waiting to redeem–us and our circumstances. Thank You that You use everything in our lives and are able and willing to bring good out of our very worst pain. You are amazing! Thank You, Lord. Help me to focus on the good You bring about and not the pain. Amen.

*Find the whole dramatic account in Genesis chapters 37 and 39-50.

*If you’re not sure what I mean, or you just want to blow 5 minutes check out:

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