“Do Not Interpretations Belong to God?” – Genesis 40:1–23

by Feb 28, 2021Sermons0 comments

Hear now the word of the Lord from Genesis 40,

40 Some time after this, the cupbearer of the king of Egypt and his baker committed an offense against their lord the king of Egypt. 2 And Pharaoh was angry with his two officers, the chief cupbearer and the chief baker, 3 and he put them in custody in the house of the captain of the guard, in the prison where Joseph was confined. 4 The captain of the guard appointed Joseph to be with them, and he attended them. They continued for some time in custody.
5 And one night they both dreamed—the cupbearer and the baker of the king of Egypt, who were confined in the prison—each his own dream, and each dream with its own interpretation. 6 When Joseph came to them in the morning, he saw that they were troubled. 7 So he asked Pharaoh’s officers who were with him in custody in his master’s house, “Why are your faces downcast today?” 8 They said to him, “We have had dreams, and there is no one to interpret them.” And Joseph said to them, “Do not interpretations belong to God? Please tell them to me.”
9 So the chief cupbearer told his dream to Joseph and said to him, “In my dream there was a vine before me, 10 and on the vine there were three branches. As soon as it budded, its blossoms shot forth, and the clusters ripened into grapes. 11 Pharaoh’s cup was in my hand, and I took the grapes and pressed them into Pharaoh’s cup and placed the cup in Pharaoh’s hand.” 12 Then Joseph said to him, “This is its interpretation: the three branches are three days. 13 In three days Pharaoh will lift up your head and restore you to your office, and you shall place Pharaoh’s cup in his hand as formerly, when you were his cupbearer. 14 Only remember me, when it is well with you, and please do me the kindness to mention me to Pharaoh, and so get me out of this house. 15 For I was indeed stolen out of the land of the Hebrews, and here also I have done nothing that they should put me into the pit.”
16 When the chief baker saw that the interpretation was favorable, he said to Joseph, “I also had a dream: there were three cake baskets on my head, 17 and in the uppermost basket there were all sorts of baked food for Pharaoh, but the birds were eating it out of the basket on my head.” 18 And Joseph answered and said, “This is its interpretation: the three baskets are three days. 19 In three days Pharaoh will lift up your head—from you!—and hang you on a tree. And the birds will eat the flesh from you.”
20 On the third day, which was Pharaoh’s birthday, he made a feast for all his servants and lifted up the head of the chief cupbearer and the head of the chief baker among his servants. 21 He restored the chief cupbearer to his position, and he placed the cup in Pharaoh’s hand. 22 But he hanged the chief baker, as Joseph had interpreted to them. 23 Yet the chief cupbearer did not remember Joseph, but forgot him. Genesis 40:1-23, ESV

One year ago today, or at least the corresponding Sunday one year ago today, it was actually March 1st. One year ago I was preaching to a church in Kisii, Kenya, I had been teaching the week before Kenyan pastors at a wonderful conference that I was able to go on. Then the following week we went to Rwanda where I taught there as well. Now this was an amazing trip, I have so many incredible memories of this trip.

As I look back on this trip, I think I will always think about those memories and remember those times with sort of a shade on them, a tainting to them. That was the last normal experience I had before everything changed because of COVID-19. I landed back on March 6th, we had a normal worship service here on March 8th, even a fellowship meal if you remember what those are. We had a congregational meeting and then everything changed. So, it’s hard not to look back on that trip without being colored and tainted by the suffering that was to follow.

Similarly, 20 years ago this year, back in 2001 I attended a conference in Washington D.C. I have many good memories from that conference, but as I was packing up at the end of that conference to get on a plane later that day, on September 11th, I received word that our flight and all flights had been cancelled. Now I remember a few good things about the conference, but what I really remember is being in Washington D.C. on 9-11. That wonderful trip was overshadowed by such a great tragedy.

Well we live in a world where things are like this, even at the best of times our best of times are overshadowed by suffering and trials. In the worst of times we feel that life is always moving from bad to worse. So in the midst of this, when everything is tainted by suffering, how do we continue to trust in the Lord?

Well part of the answer and what we see in this story here in Genesis chapter 40, is that we can’t rely on the moment by moment in time snapshots of how we think life is going right then and there. We must rather let the word of God interpret our circumstances.

So, our big idea as we look at how Joseph navigated his own suffering is this, that interpretations belong to God.

We are going to see this in three parts.
1. God Interprets our Circumstances God
2. God Interprets our Circumstances by His Word
3. God Interprets our Circumstances in His Timing

God Interprets our Circumstances

So we start here in the first eight verses with the idea that God is the one who interprets our circumstances. In verse 1 we read some time after this, or literally after these things. It’s a very general vague description about how much time has passed. We don’t know how long Joseph has been in prison since he was put there after being falsely accused by Potiphar’s wife in the previous chapter. We do have a couple of time references that help us to understand how long Joseph’s suffering as a whole has gone on.

Back in Genesis 37:2 when we first met Joseph there, we read that he was 17 years old when his brothers began to hate him, which started all of this process of suffering. We know in the next chapter in chapter 41:46, that by the end of that he will be 30 years old. In chapter 41:1 so the next verse after the passage we’re looking at today, we will read that two whole years will pass between this story and when Joseph turns 30. So he’s 28 years old here, which means that he’s been suffering for 11 years in one way or another.

We don’t know how long he was in Canaan hated by his brother suffering there. We don’t know how long he was in Potiphar’s house suffering there. We don’t know how long he has been suffering in prison. We only know that for 11 years one thing after another has piled up to increase Joseph’s suffering.

Well, whenever this story happens, verse 1 is important because it introduces to us two key figures, two significant officers from Pharaoh’s court, the cup bearer of the king of Egypt and the baker. Now we read that these two officers in Pharaoh’s court committed an offense against their lord, the king. This phrase, committed an offense, is very literally simply the word for sinned. They sinned against their lord, the king.

Why this is important, in part, is to let us know that they did do something wrong. These are criminals, they’re in prison for a reason. It’s also a reminder that Joseph is in prison because he did not sin, Joseph is there because he is innocent. Remember in fact in Genesis chapter 39:9 this word for sin appeared to describe what Joseph refused to do, but what he was eventually falsely accused of. Potiphar’s wife continued to ask Joseph to lie with her and in 39:9 he said, “How then can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?”

Well that word for sin is the same word that describes the actions of the cupbearer and the baker. The things that land them in prison, Joseph is innocent of and yet he is numbered among the transgressors. Well Joseph here comes into contact with these two in a special way, because of what we read in verse four. In verse four we read that the captain of the guard appointed Joseph to be with him and he attended them.

Now this captain of the guard, it’s important that we remember is Potiphar himself. Now we’ve been told multiple times that Potiphar is the captain of the guard, precisely so that he’s not sort of obstructing the view that we have of this particular passage. He’s there, but kind of in the shadows.

Remember in Genesis chapter 37 when we first read about how Joseph was sold by the Midianites into Egypt, we read that he was sold to Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, the captain of the guard. Then at the beginning of the last chapter in 39:1 we read that Joseph had been brought down to Egypt and Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, the captain of the guard, an Egyptian had bought him from the Ishmaelites.

So Potiphar is the captain of the guard and he appoints Joseph to do the same thing for these two officials, that Joseph had previously done for himself for Potiphar. In verse 4 it says that Joseph attended these two officials. That word refers to more than just sort of the menial tasks that would have been performed by the low-level slaves, we’re talking about an honored position of being a close trusted personal assistant to someone. This is what Joseph did for Potiphar and we read about in verse four that Joseph found favor in part of his sight and attended the officials. So what Joseph formerly did for Potiphar, he now does for these officials.

Well, all of this in the first four verses is background, it sort of sets up the story. The real story starts in verse five.

5 And one night they both dreamed—the cupbearer and the baker of the king of Egypt, who were confined in the prison—each his own dream, and each dream with its own interpretation. 6 When Joseph came to them in the morning, he saw that they were troubled. 7 So he asked Pharaoh’s officers who were with him in custody in his master’s house, “Why are your faces downcast today?” 8 They said to him, “We have had dreams, and there is no one to interpret them.” And Joseph said to them, “Do not interpretations belong to God? Please tell them to me.” Genesis 40:5-6, ESV

The problem that these two have is not simply that they have had dreams, but that they have had dreams and they don’t have access to someone who can give an interpretation for their dreams. When they were formerly in the courts of Pharaoh, they would have had access to those who gave interpretations to dreams. Whether those were real or false interpretations, they would have at least felt confident that they were talking to an expert. Now in the prison, they don’t have access to those experts and so they are troubled by this.

As Victor Hamilton puts this in his commentary on this passage he says, “a dream without an accompanying interpretation is like a diagnosis without a prognosis. I know something’s going to happen to me, but I don’t really know what it’s going to mean for me.”

Now this moment is a test for Joseph. All this time Joseph has been suffering and remember how all of this trouble started, it started with his own dreams. Dreams are problems for Joseph when he shared his dreams back in Canaan. In Genesis 37 his brothers hated him because of his dreams. When he shared his dreams not only with his brothers, but also with his father, his father rebuked him for sharing his dreams.

The dreams have been problems and more than that the dreams have not at all in the least bit come true. Joseph’s dreams said that his whole family was going to come around him and bow down to him. Yet step by step, little by little, more by more, deeper and deeper Joseph’s suffering descends him into pain, without ever being exalted to this place where others are bowing down to him.

So the question is, has Joseph’s suffering through all this shaken his confidence in God? The answer is no. Immediately Joseph responds with confident faith. He says in verse 8,

“Do not interpretations belong to God? Please tell them to me.” Joseph has suffered, but Joseph has not stopped trusting in God. So this is the question that this story raises for us and so vividly puts in front of us. How should we interpret our circumstances over this past year?

My son Zachariah has really gotten into watching football games and those have been a lot of fun to watch with him. But I’m wanting to give him positive experiences of Nebraska football, which means that I’ve had to use a lot of recordings of old games, games that Nebraska actually won. So, as we’ve watched these older games, and I know the end of them, I’m choosing the good ones, the ones that we won.

It’s interesting to see him react with frustration every time we fumble the ball away or throw an interception or give up a touchdown. In those cases I remember when I watched those games for the first time live, I was doing the same thing if not more. I was super frustrated, despairing at the game as it was going along. But now as I’m watching these old games, I don’t react that way at all. In fact some of the setbacks in those games are kind of fun, they’re part of the joy because they only make the eventual victory all the more sweet. I can enjoy this because I know the ending. I can interpret those, not as reasons to despair, but as part of the joy of the drama.

As Christians we must never forget that we know the end of the story. We know how the story ends. In light of what we know about the end of our story, God urges us not to look at our trials as sort of ultimate things in themselves, as reasons to despair in the moment. Rather we should look at them as part of the drama, part of the overall glory of the redemptive story that God is rolling out across human history.

Now Joseph knows the end of the story, he knows what will eventually happen for him, he knows that he will be exalted. So in this moment, part of the way that Joseph perseveres is because he has his eyes fixed on what the Lord has promised to him. So he’s still confident that God will hold him up and give him prophetic insight.

God Interprets our Circumstances by His Word

So, this leads us into the second section where we think about the prophetic insight that’s given to Joseph and the prophetic insight that’s given to us in the Bible in the word of God. That is that God interprets our circumstances by his word.

9 So the chief cupbearer told his dream to Joseph and said to him, “In my dream there was a vine before me, 10 and on the vine there were three branches. As soon as it budded, its blossoms shot forth, and the clusters ripened into grapes. 11 Pharaoh’s cup was in my hand, and I took the grapes and pressed them into Pharaoh’s cup and placed the cup in Pharaoh’s hand.” 12 Then Joseph said to him, “This is its interpretation: the three branches are three days. 13 In three days Pharaoh will lift up your head and restore you to your office, and you shall place Pharaoh’s cup in his hand as formerly, when you were his cupbearer. Genesis 40:9-13, ESV

Now remember at the end of verse 8, Joseph had urged the cup bearer and the baker to entrust their interpretations of their dreams to God, “do not interpretations belong to God?” So in verses 9 through 11, the cup bearer takes him up on this. The cupbearer apparently is persuaded and shares this dream with Joseph. We read about this dream with vines and branches and grapes and Pharaoh’s cup, and the cupbearer putting the cup into Pharaoh’s hand. In verses 12 and 13, Joseph interprets the dream. Giving the interpretation that this means that in three days Pharaoh will restore the cupbearer to his former office.

What’s interesting is what Joseph says after he gives the interpretation, verses 14 and 15, he says,

14 Only remember me, when it is well with you, and please do me the kindness to mention me to Pharaoh, and so get me out of this house. 15 For I was indeed stolen out of the land of the Hebrews, and here also I have done nothing that they should put me into the pit.” Genesis 40:14-15, ESV

This is one of the very few places where we see Joseph talk about his experience. Normally he is very silent, he is suffering but he suffers silently. The suffering is inflicted upon him and we don’t know what he is thinking about it in the moment. But here we see Joseph speak about a situation, and this is important because it reminds us that Joseph is a real person like you and me. When he suffers, he hurts because of his suffering. Sometimes we think this about people in the Bible, they’re so spiritual they can just float above their problems and nothing ever touches them or harms them. Yet we see here the depth of his suffering.

Now the pain of Joseph’s suffering is actually captured in one of the Psalms. In Psalm 105:16-19 we read that when the Lord summoned a famine on the land and broke all supply of bread, that happens a little bit later in Joseph’s story, he had sent a man ahead of him or ahead of them.

16 When he summoned a famine on the land
and broke all supply of bread,
17 he had sent a man ahead of them,
Joseph, who was sold as a slave.
18 His feet were hurt with fetters;
his neck was put in a collar of iron;
19 until what he had said came to pass,
the word of the LORD tested him.
Genesis 105:16-19, ESV

We see here that he is patient in the midst of his suffering, but he is not passive. He’s advocating for himself, while he still retains confidence that the Lord will one day do all that he has said that he would do for Joseph.

Well in Genesis 40:16, we read that when the chief baker saw that the interpretation was favorable and then he goes on to share his own dream. Now this is interesting because the cupbearer was persuaded to share his dream when Joseph urged him to trust in God, “do not interpretations belong to God?” Then the cup bearer shared his dream, but the baker is not willing to share his dream until he sees that the interpretation given is favorable.

Now this may suggest, and this is a subtle point, and we don’t want to go too far out on this limb, this may suggest something negative about the baker’s character. He may not be interested in the truth for its own sake, but simply in getting good news. This aspect of his character, this insight into his character, may tell us something about what leads to his execution. The reason that he is executed while the cup bearer is exalted back to his former position, may not be Pharaoh’s arbitrary judgment. It may have been something that has to do with the baker’s heart and potentially the original action the baker had done in the first place.

That’s to the side of the story we don’t know. Instead we are told that the baker, even though his dream in a lot of ways sounds very similar to the dream that the cup bearer had. Even though the interpretation for the cupbearer was very positive in three days you will be restored to your former office, we read here that the interpretation for the baker is very negative. In three days you will be put to a gruesome death, your head will be lifted from you. You will be hanged, and the birds will eat your flesh from you. It’s a horrifying kind of death given to this baker.

Joseph though is able to interpret which dream means which interpretation, because he’s not trusting in himself. He’s not interpreting things on his own, he is rather trusting in the word of the Lord to interpret these dreams.

Now we must look to God’s word to interpret our circumstances. It doesn’t come through dreams.

1 Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.
Hebrews 1:1-2, ESV

Through his word, God’s word, the Bible still interprets our circumstances. But the difficulty we have is usually not in understanding what the Bible is saying, although there are some difficult passages to understand. The difficult thing, and we see this in the life of Joseph captured here, the difficulty is in how we have to wait patiently for God to reveal his promises in his timing. God doesn’t do everything all at once, even if we know the end of the story, even if we know what God is doing, we still have to wait for God to do everything that he has promised to us.

God Interprets our Circumstances in His Timing

So this brings us to our third section in verses 20 through 23, that God interprets our circumstances in his timing.

20 On the third day, which was Pharaoh’s birthday, he made a feast for all his servants and lifted up the head of the chief cupbearer and the head of the chief baker among his servants. 21 He restored the chief cupbearer to his position, and he placed the cup in Pharaoh’s hand. 22 But he hanged the chief baker, as Joseph had interpreted to them. 23 Yet the chief cupbearer did not remember Joseph, but forgot him. Genesis 40:20-23, ESV

Now on the third day, which was Pharaoh’s birthday, the cup bearer and the baker receive exactly what Joseph had interpreted. The connection to Joseph’s interpretation is very clear in verse 21, it says that Pharaoh restored the chief cupbearer to his position, and he placed the cup in Pharaoh’s hand, but he hanged the chief baker, as Joseph had interpreted to them. These don’t happen by chance or randomly, this is exactly in line with what Joseph had interpreted to each of them.

It’s in verse 23 that we read the heartbreak, and it’s typically understated, it says yet the chief cup bearer did not remember Joseph, but forgot him. Now there’s insult to injury here, it’s not just that he didn’t remember him, that’s bad enough, but it’s also that he forgot him. The redundancy helps us to underscore how painful this would have been for Joseph.

This is the third time that Joseph has had to suffer for his faithfulness. He suffered first for his faithfulness with his family. He suffered by bringing a faithful report about the evil that his brothers had committed, and he suffered when he faithfully shared his dreams with his family back in Genesis 37. Next we read that Joseph suffered in chapter 39, when he was falsely accused by Potiphar’s wife, even though he was faithful to his master Potiphar and faithful to his God.

Now even though he is faithful in faithfully declaring the correct interpretation the word of the Lord for each man’s dream. He suffers by being not remembered and forgotten. Joseph knows that one day he’s going to be exalted, he knows the end of the story. His dreams have told him that God has told him the end of the story, but the question is when.

So again we remember Psalm 105:19,

until what he had said came to pass,
the word of the LORD tested him. Psalm 105:19, ESV

The difficulty of faith is often not the difficulty of knowing God’s true promises, they’re written clearly for us in the Bible. The much greater difficulty has to do with waiting for God’s promises to come true, waiting for the end of the story and until what the Lord speaks comes to pass. The word of the Lord will test us. The question we’re faced with, just like Joseph was, is will we interpret our circumstances in light of what we can see or will we walk by faith? Will we interpret our circumstances in light of what God has spoken to us in his word?

Now this moment is another critical moment for Joseph and remember this lasts two whole years, which is what we read in the very next verse in 41:1. This last two whole years when Joseph is languishing in the pit in prison. He hits rock bottom here. This is as deep as his suffering goes. Think about it, put it yourself in his shoes. He finally has a real chance to get someone to do for him what he can’t do for himself, to get to the attention of the only person who can secure his pardon, Pharaoh.

Remember he’s in prison because of a charge that was false, but brought against him by Potiphar. As we’ve been reminded in this story, Potiphar is the captain of the guard, one of Pharaoh’s officers. There’s no one else who can pardon Joseph’s offense except for the only one who outranks Potiphar, Pharaoh. Now Joseph has this chance to connect his story, what has happened to him with Potiphar, with Pharaoh. Still nothing happens. So, does Joseph despair and give up now? How could he possibly keep going?

I once heard the story of Admiral Jim Stockdale, the highest-ranking United States military officer in a prisoner of war camp in Hanoi during the Vietnam War. He was imprisoned over eight years from 1965 to 1973. As the book put it, Stockdale lived out the war without any prisoners’ rights, no set release date, and no certainty as to whether he would even survive to see his family again.

Now the author of the book interviewed Stockdale and asked, what I thought was a really interesting question. He asked Stockdale, who are the people who didn’t make it out of the camp? Who were the people who couldn’t survive, not because they were executed, but because they couldn’t survive the soul crushing suffering without any end in sight of life in the camp?

Stockdale replied, “Oh that’s easy, it was the optimists. The optimists were the ones who said well we’re going to be out by Christmas, then Christmas would come, and Christmas would go. Then they’d say we’re going to be out by Easter and Easter would come and Easter would go. Then Thanksgiving, and then it would be Christmas again, and they died of a broken heart.”

Stockdale added this very important lesson, you must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end, which you can never afford to lose, with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be now. I don’t know what drove Jim Stockdale’s faith, whether he was putting his faith in Christ as the ultimate source of prevailing in the end or whether he put his faith in something else.

Yet when he talks about the need to separate our faith and that ultimate victory, versus the need we have to confront the brutal facts of our circumstances of our suffering in front of us, he’s echoing what the Bible teaches us. That we must confront the brutal facts that in this fallen broken sinful world, our circumstances will always be hard and difficult and cruel. There’s no way around this, there is no way to get beyond this in this life.

Like Joseph our lives are going to be constantly overshadowed, even the best of times, with suffering. In the worst of times, things will often seem to go from bad to worse. What’s so hard about this is that suffering won’t end by Easter, suffering won’t end by Thanksgiving or by Christmas.

Now certain circumstances of our suffering will come and go. But if we’re just waiting to get past whatever that thing is in our life, to get around it, to get around the corner and we expect that around the corner we will discover that elusive happily ever after, we will be disappointed time and time again. If we keep looking for happily ever after in this life, we will never find it until we eventually die of a broken heart, deceived into believing that God has failed us. He hasn’t, but we won’t find in the brutal facts of the reality of our circumstances, happily ever after in this life.

Application

Well, if this is true and that’s grim and glum and I’m sorry about that. The question is how then do we endure? Well two applications from this story from Joseph’s life.

1. Let the word of the Lord interpret your circumstances. As human beings we are constantly evaluating our circumstances, judging whether our circumstances are good or whether they’re bad. Delighting in some circumstances, while grumbling and despairing about other circumstances.

From these evaluations we are making a thousand decisions every day, all day, about how to act and react in light of our circumstances. This passage, and the whole story of Joseph, is raising a key question. How should we be evaluating our circumstances just by what we could see or in some other way? Throughout all of his suffering, this is raising the question, how does Joseph retain his gut level confidence in God’s goodness toward him? How do we remain confident when we feel that we have been snake bitten?

So often things seem good, but then they’re overshadowed by suffering. When suffering taints even our best moments, what the word of the Lord teaches us is to interpret our circumstances by faith not by sight. By faith, specifically, not that our individual circumstances in this life will all work out well now. That’s not the promise, but faith in the end of the story, not our circumstances today, but in the end of the story.

The word of the Lord is teaching us that God is testing us until the day comes when all that he has spoken will come to pass and they must come to pass. In the meantime the word of the Lord reminds us, as we considered last week, that God will never leave us or forsake us. The word of the Lord reminds us that the Lord of hosts is with us, the God of Jacob is our fortress. The word of the Lord reframes our circumstances by saying even though your life won’t be suffering free, nevertheless for those who love God all things will work together for good.

The word of the Lord points to the proof of that promise, that’s not just a pie in the sky empty sort of idea, but the word of God points us to Christ as the ultimate proof that God will fulfill everything he has promised us. In Romans 8:32 we read,

32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?
Romans 8:32, ESV

If God sacrificed his beloved son for you, what will he withhold from you of all that he has promised to you? Let the word of the Lord interpret your circumstances.

2. Wait for the word of the Lord to be fulfilled. We’ve got to start by knowing the truth, that’s we can’t do anything until we know the truth. Merely knowing the truth will never be enough. Tt’s not that the truth is weak, it’s that our fears and doubts and worries are strong. So what we know in our heads can easily be drowned out by the waves of suffering in our hearts. So, we’ve got to constantly confront the brutal facts of suffering and yet at the same time we must never lose hope of the certainty of God’s promises. We must not forget the end of the story.

In this passage, one of the things that reminds us at the end of the story of what God is doing, and we can’t miss this, is that the suffering in Joseph’s life clearly foreshadows the suffering in Christ’s life. Like Joseph our Lord was hated by his brethren, he was hated by the sons of Israel. Like Joseph our Lord was betrayed and he was falsely accused. Like Joseph our Lord was innocent, yet he was numbered among the transgressors as he suffered between two criminals. Like Joseph our Lord’s suffering took him deeper and deeper into descent. into the pit as what Joseph in verse 15 calls the prison.

Well, the pit for Christ was the cross and the grave. Nut also like Joseph, as we’re going to see in the very next chapter, our Lord when all of this was done, our Lord was exalted to the right hand of the king.

Joseph became the savior of the world by providing food in the midst of a famine. Our Lord Jesus Christ became the savior of the whole world as he offered his shed blood and righteousness to guilty sinners. Those who have sinned and who are in need in the forgiveness of God Almighty, people like you and me.

Brothers and sisters, the only way for us to get through our suffering is to keep our eyes fixed on the end of the story. That Christ, when he returns one day, will raise us up with him. That as serious and significant and painful as our suffering is, and we must not minimize suffering, it is real and it is terrible and even death itself is our last enemy, that Christ will trample under his feet. As serious as suffering is, it is not ultimate. So, brothers and sisters in the midst of your suffering, don’t give up. Wait patiently with unfailing confident expectation for the word of the Lord to be fulfilled.

Let’s pray. Heavenly Father, we pray that you would give us confidence that everything you have spoken will indeed come to pass. That in the midst of our great suffering, Jesus Christ is promising us, and we pray that we wouldn’t lose sight of this, that one day he will return and put to right all the suffering that we have ever experienced. Maranatha, come quickly Lord Jesus. We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

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