Have you ever prayed for patience? What happened? You probably got hit with a bunch of things that tested your patience. Why? Because God doesn’t just give you character qualities. He builds them in you and refined them through His processes. When character is given, it isn’t appreciated. When it’s earned in a fiery trial, it is etched into your being. God knows what makes us tick and what we need to grow and develop. When God builds character in us, we forget that we prayed for it and usually start praying to get out of the refinement process. Both prayers have costly consequences, but only one elevates who we are. Only sticking it out through the hard times, even when you can’t see what God, is doing will build your character.
The story of Joseph has always intrigued me. He didn’t pray for a character trait, but he would need them to fulfill the dream he was given. He was excited about the dream, but didn’t know what it would cost to build and refine his character. He was betrayed by his brothers, sold into slavery, falsely accused and put in prison where he was forgotten. We don’t read where he questioned God or asked Him to stop the troubles. What we see is a man of great character and wisdom on the other side of the process. He forgave his brothers and saved them in the famine. He would have forfeited his destiny had he exited the process.
Psalm 105:17-19 says, “He sent a man before them, Joseph, who was sold as a slave. His feet they hurt with shackles; he was put in chains of iron, until the time that his word [of prophecy regarding his brothers] came true, the word of the Lord tested and refined him” (AMP). He was tested and refined during a long season of unfulfilled hope. That’s the same process God uses with you and me. It’s not easy to keep going when you feel forgotten or when your world has fallen apart, but that’s what’s necessary. Character building and refinement are done in times when the promise is yet to be fulfilled. If you’re in one of those times, trust in God’s Word and in His process. He’s working in you and etching it into the very fiber of your being. You will be different when you come out the other side and will have what it takes to fulfill your destiny.
Thanks to Kelly Sikkema @kellysikkema for making this photo available freely on Unsplash
Joseph’s adult life was marked by many afflictions and sufferings. His brothers turned on him to kill him. They decided to sell him as a slave, and he was taken to Egypt where he was sold. He worked as a slave until he was falsely accused of raping his master’s wife. After spending many years in prison, he interpreted the dreams of Pharaoh’s cupbearer and baker only to be forgotten. For 13 years his life spun out of control and seemed to be going away from the dream God gave him.
What he didn’t know was that God was setting him up to fulfill that dream. Through it all, he developed the character necessary to be a leader that would lead a nation through a crisis. We don’t know about the dark nights he must have questioned God. We don’t get to read how hopeless he felt at times. We don’t even get to find out the depth of his affliction, but we know it was there. He went through these things because he was human like us.
We get a sense of it by the names of his children after being made second in command of Egypt. His first son was named Manasseh which means “God has made me forget all my troubles.” The name of his second son is even more telling. Genesis 41:52 says, “And the second he called Ephraim [to be fruitful], For [he said] God has caused me to be fruitful in the land of my affliction” (AMPC). Not only did God help him to leave the past behind him, He helped him to become fruitful where he suffered.
Whatever pain or suffering that you have endured or are enduring, know that God has not forgotten you. He is fulfilling His plan in your life and will cause you to be fruitful and prosper because of what you are enduring. Even if the pain is unbearable, in time God can help you to forget these troubles like a mom forgets labor pains. The joy that comes after is greater than the pain you endured because life is born. Just as God developed Joseph, He is developing you so you can be fruitful in the land of your affliction.