If God is always working, why is life so hard?

Do you ever wonder why life is so hard? In Genesis 50:20, after a roller-coaster ride of a life, Joseph says these astounding words, “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good”. If you’re unfamiliar with this particular bible story…let me catch you up to speed. Joseph is considered a patriarch in the Old Testament and is the favorite son of his father Jacob. By favorite, I️ mean that his father doted on him and gave him extra candy and loosened up the chores. At the time, Joseph was the only son birthed by Rachel, Joseph’s favorite wife. This is where the story gets kinda confusing because Jacob had several wives…two of which were sisters (Ew. Gross.) and two servant girls. But before we digress, let’s continue.

The Story of Joseph Synopsis Style

Joseph had ten older brothers who were quick to catch on that little brother was the favorite and like in any family, you can imagine the hatred that could build up over time. To top it all off, Joseph is given a coat of many colors (Gen. 37:3) by his father as a deep sign of affection. Modern-day, it might look like your sibling received an Oscar da le Renta whereas everyone else was given a hand-me-down from Goodwill. Okay…now you’re tracking with me.

Then, Joseph has this crazy dream (Gen. 37), and to make a long story short (since this is a blog and not a novel), he sees his brothers bow down to him. Let’s just say the tension is a risin’.

Out of jealousy and furor, the bigs cast Joseph into a pit with the intent to let him die. When wounds fester, lookout! Bad decisions can be made in no time. However, we see a glimpse of God’s sovereignty overrule the bad intentions of man, and in lieu, the brothers pull Joseph from the pit and sell him to slave traders nearby.

Living in the Tension

From this point forward, Joseph is living in this constant tension of “already” and “not yet”. Joseph knows he had a dream. He knows God has a purpose for Him. And yet, nothing in his life is going that way. There are barriers after barriers. Failures following failures. Giants chasing giants. So the battle rages on. Why is life so hard?

Joseph is sold to Eygptian royalty and quickly rises to a position of prominence. Shortly thereafter he suffers a widely-publicized fall but is falsely accused (Gen 39). Off to prison ministry, he would go. All the while, I️ wonder what was going on in Joseph’s head.

The Spiritual Battle Rages On

Time passes. Days turn to days turn to months turn to years and you must wonder, how did Joseph survive? What did his conversations with God look like? Was he mad? Full of doubt? Did he wonder “Why is life so hard”?

These are questions that we cannot answer, but I️ have a feeling it looks a lot like our current-day quarantine. We begin to doubt that God is still on the throne, or that He cares. Does He see what is happening in our details?

The Importance of a Sanctification Seasons

Amid a pandemic, God is up to something. He always is up to something! God is moving and shaping and molding and working…even when we cannot see that He is there.

Many theologians conjecture that Joseph was probably a little snotty brother after receiving such high praise from his dad. He received abundant love and affection as a child…but then, whoa! Words cannot explain the injustice. Or humiliation. Let alone loneliness that must exist in a jail cell. Maybe God had to bring Joseph low to raise him high? Who knows…maybe there’s an underlying purpose when life is so hard?

I️ have a feeling that a great work was occurring in the heart of Joseph. A work of worry versus faith. Rebellion versus submission. Pride versus humility. Despair versus hope. Sadness versus joy. And I️ have to wonder if any of you can relate right now? How do you respond when there is a spiritual battle brewing on and on and on?

Hope Is Not Dead

But God meant it for good. Okay…let me say it again…but God meant it for good. In other words, God was IN the hard stuff the whole time. He did not abandon Joseph. He did not disappoint. The lesson here for all of us is that God will fulfill His promises in “God Time”.

“Will God do what He promises”? YES

“Is God there?” YES

“Does God love me?” YES

“Will He provide”? YES

We may not see God working in our current circumstance, but we can rest assured that He is always there. He will not fail. God will stand true to His Word (Matt. 28:20). God is working even when life is so hard.

Persevere Through the Disappointment

Get this, the majority of Genesis chronicles the life of Joseph (see Genesis 37-50). There are many ups and downs and twists and turns. I️ love that God notices all the details. The sleepless nights. And the endless tears. Take the time to read it and allow it to sink in.

God sees you and loves you and has not abandoned you. Please…hear that right now.

But after many years of waiting, “God means it for good”. In other words, God accomplishes His plan (He always does)! He orchestrates all the details. A famine comes to Israel and Joseph’s brothers come looking for food in Eygpt, a foreign land. And shockingly (and lovingly), God knew it would happen all along (Gen. 15:13). God knew in advance that Joseph’s brothers would disdain him and sell him into slavery and somehow, wind up going to Egypt to hunt for food.

This is Where a Blog Will Not Due

For argument’s sake, this is where a blog will not suffice. There is not enough space or time. But hear me out for a sec…God always knew. He holds all the details. And for that, we should stand in awe & wonder. God knew that Joseph’s brothers would sin and sell little brother to the slave traders. All along, God had a plan to use it for good as a means to save the Israelites from the famine and for the nation of Israel to be formed.

God knows everything. He is always working for our good. Hear Joseph’s words cut to the core when he addresses his brothers for the first time, revealing his identity to them.

As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. Gen. 50:20

Return to God

During a pandemic. When we suffer or feel oppressed. As violence increases around us. Will we call God “good”? Do we surrender to God’s plans, or put up a fight instead? Maybe it’s time we allow God to be God in our lives.