Grace For Greatness
Grace for Greatness: Lesson 2
One of the greatest statements Joseph made was when he said to his brothers, “So now it was not you that send me here; but God, and He has made me a father to Pharoah, and lord of all his house, and a ruler throughout the land of Egypt.” (Genesis 45:8)
Hurdle #2 – Pain
How we deal with the problem of pain determines much of our destiny. We must develop the grace of forgiveness, or the pain of life’s bad experiences will cause us to become bitter.
1. Sooner or later we will experience pain.
We live in a hurting world. It is not a question of experiencing pain, the only question is when it will happen and to what degree. Learning how to properly handle pain is one of the most difficult spiritual exercises. Jesus said, “Woe to the world because of offenses! For offenses must come, but woe to that man by whom the offense comes!” (Matthew 18:7) We must find an escape from the curse of offenses. We must find a way to release the people who hurt us.
2. When people do us wrong, we want to put them on trial.
When Jesus suffered, He did not threaten but rather committed Himself to God. “Who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously.” (I Peter 2:23) Only God judges righteously, but this leads us to a greater problem. How can a good God allow bad things to happen to good people? Could God have prevented it? Of course, He could. How then can a good God allow bad things to happen without being a part of the problem?
Joseph came to believe God had sent him to Egypt, so he reasoned, “If God sent me, He must have a purpose for me being here. Therefore, I must be willing to forgive those who caused my pain, because the greater will of God is being done.”
3. We must be willing to release those who did us wrong.
At first, Joseph wanted to put his brothers on trial and prove their guilt and his innocence. But the prisons we build for others entrap us. Joseph cannot be free until he is willing to set his captives free. We cannot fly carrying the weight of yesterday’s pain.
4. Deep wounds must heal from the inside out.
Healing deep wounds requires more than just a band-aid, plus it takes time to heal. And the deeper the wound, the greater time it will take.
Joseph went through a healing process much like a gestation period in the birth of a baby. God often uses the natural to illustrate the spiritual. God gave Joseph two sons during his time in Egypt. “And to Joseph two sons were born before the years of famine came, whom Aseneth, the daughter of Poti-Pherah priest of On, bore him. Joseph called the name of his firstborn Manasseh: ‘For God has made me forget all my toil, and all my father’s house.’” (Genesis 41:50-52)
The name Manasseh means “to forget.” The name Ephraim means to “be fruitful.” Every time Joseph looked at his two boys it reminded him of what God was doing in his life and why he was in Egypt. This is the principle of what happens “in us” is more important than what happens “to us.”
“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.” (Matthew 5:7) Mercy is never revealed until we are dealing with someone in a lesser position than ours or someone who has done us wrong.
In the Bible, mercy always precedes truth. If we did not first experience mercy, the truth would destroy us. The word “mercy” is found 301 times in the Old Testament but only found 57 times in the New Testament. What does this tell us? Mercy is an Old Testament concept about God.
The word “grace” is found only 38 times in the Old Testament but is found 138 times in the New Testament. What does this tell us? Grace is a New Testament concept about God.
Grace is greater than mercy. Mercy is not receiving what I deserve, but grace is receiving what I do not deserve. There are many problems in life where grace is the only good answer. There are times when we struggle with forgiving deep wounds, but God has promised to give us the grace necessary for forgiveness.