I saw this on my FB feed, posted by a friend who often shares various positive affirmations from a number of Christian ministers:
The Scripture reference provided is to the passage in Genesis where Joseph begins his painful journey being sold into slavery in Egypt. Through a variety of divine interventions and up-and-down circumstances, Joseph experiences blessings and pain until he ends up second only to Pharaoh in the kingdom.
With the benefit of hindsight, Joseph is able to tell his brothers that what they meant for evil, God meant for good, in order to save his family and the future nation.
Sitting in the pit and sitting in prison (just like sitting in Potiphar’s house and in the palace of Pharaoh), Joseph doesn’t know all that. He might have hope, based on God’s promises when he was young. He might have faith that God’s going to do something. But he has no certainty either way.
Yet Joseph remains faithful, for he trusts that God is also faithful.
When I read the status above, about God’s favor, I am grieved and distressed by the thought that we have missed the point.
We have a great hope that “God will work all things together for good for them that love Him and are called according to His purpose” (Rom 8:28). That may give us a warm fuzzy that something good in the future will come out of our present pain.
But we’re called not to count on the favor of God to rescue us. We’re called to live out of trust in God, regardless.
Consider Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in Daniel 3. It’s a great story of how God protected His children in the midst of persecution. It would go very well with the status quoted above. Favor is going into the furnace’s flames, and coming out proclaiming His name. Or something like that.
But there are many Christians, so very many, who suffer and die and never see the manifestation of God’s favor. We may not see a Christian promoted to second-in-command of all of North Korea, or a trio of believers standing up unharmed by the AK-47s of ISIS in Iraq. We might not see God promote us to a position of our dreams or use us to display His power to an entire nation or community.
Do we enjoy His favor any less? Do we remain any less faithful?
Is favor the focus? Was favor ever Joseph’s focus?
I don’t think so. In pit or in palace, in fire or fame, as Christians our eyes must be fixed not on God’s immediate deliverance but on His eternal faithfulness.
17 If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. 18 But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”
Daniel 3:17-18 NIV