Today in my devotional time I read Genesis chapter 37 - 41. As I was reading, I was reminded that years ago I spoke a message titled, “The tale of two brothers”
In Genesis chapters 37, 39, 40 and 41 we see the story of Joseph going through unbelievably tough times. We see him prevailing through adversity, staying faithful to God and God moving him to a place of promotion.
However, right in the middle of Joseph’s story, we see in Genesis chapter 38, the life of his brother Judah. During the same time frame that Joseph is going through his tough time, Judah has his own personal journey through suffering. One of his sons die. Not too long after that he loses another son to premature death. (On a side note - both of his sons were extremely wicked. They were so wicked in fact at the Bible says that God is the one who killed them.)
After the death of two of his sons, Judah makes a promise to his daughter in law Tamar. Judah is not an honest man, so he does not keep his word. She is very bitter and wants to pay him back. A little while after his wife passes away, Judah is going into the city. He sees what he thinks is a prostitute and wants to pay her for her "services". Judah sleeps with the prostitute and gives her one of his rings as payment.
Judah doesn't realize it but the prostitute is actually Tamar. She wanted to trick him and cause him to pay for breaking the promise he made to her. So, she dressed up like a prostitute with the hopes of becoming pregnant by Judah. This is not because she loves him, but because she hates him. Tamar, wants to embarrass Judah, forcing him to take care of her and the child.
Tamar becomes pregnant with Judah's child. When Judah finds out Tamar is pregnant, (not knowing he is the father) he calls for her to come to him. He doesn't call for her because he cares for her. No, Judah wants to bring her in front of all of the people so they can judge her and kill her for sin.
When Tamar arrives, and Judah begins to confront her in front of the people, she says it was you who got me pregnant and presents him with the ring that he gave her.
Judah's life was an absolute mess. He loses two sons. He loses his wife. He was embarrassed in front of all of his friends because he got his daughter in law pregnant. Welcome to the Jerry Springer show!
But you know what, Josephs life was a mess too. He was sold into slavery by his brothers. He was falsely accused of raping his masters wife. He was thrown into prison. He was forgotten and sat in the prison for several years.
As I look at these two stories, I am reminded that in life no matter who you are, tough times are going to come your way. In fact, I would say the question is not, "will tough times come". The bigger question to ask is, "why are they coming".
Judah went through crazy tough times. But he went through them because he did not follow God and kept falling into holes that he had dug with his own bad decisions.
Joseph went through tough times. But the tough times he went through were because he was following God. Being betrayed, sold into slavery, and put into prison, were steps God was taking Joseph through. God wanted to move Joseph from where he was, to where he needed to be. God wanted to help Joseph become what He had destined him to be.
If tough times are going to come no matter how you and I live. I think it would be much better to live like Joseph. Walk with God. Obey His word. Let him lead me through the hard times to get to His plan for my life.
To discover more about why suffering comes and what to do when it hits, listen to a podcast we recently posted on our Lets Talk Life and Leadership Podcast.