Pain, when properly handled, can shape a life for greatness. History is replete with stories of those whose struggles and scars formed the foundation for remarkable achievements. In fact, it was because of their hardship they gained what they needed to achieve greatness.
For a long time in my life, I wrestled with that concept. It seemed to be a cruel philosophy. Why should anyone need to suffer? What do you mean, “There are benefits that come only through struggles?” I have now come full circle. I agree with A. W. Tozer, who said, “It is doubtful whether God can bless a man greatly until He has hurt him deeply.”1 I could mention numerous examples, but certainly no life evidences this truth more clearly than the life of Joseph.
For the most part, Joseph’s experiences thus far have been somber. He may have been born a favored son, but his life was filled with disappointment, mistreatment, and rejection, with fear and false accusations, with slavery and abandonment. We left Joseph alone in prison as we ended the previous chapter. Now, after a gap of two full years, we pick up his story again.
Remember, when we left him, he had told the cupbearer two years earlier, “Now that I’ve told you the meaning of your dream, don’t forget me. Keep me in mind when things go well with you, and when you get promoted. Please do me the kindness of mentioning me to Pharaoh, and get me out of this place. Remember me.” But the cupbearer failed to remember or mention Joseph. Only three days after Joseph said this, the man was released and restored to his former position as chief cupbearer to Pharaoh. He promptly forgot all about his days in the dungeon, as well as his cell mate, Joseph.
Two full years passed after that event—a long time to be forgotten. We may find ourselves asking, “After all Joseph had been through, why would something like this happen?” He had been obedient to God and was earlier promoted because “God was with him.” The answer is that God was still at work in his life. The same is true for you.
Excerpted from Charles R. Swindoll, Great Days with the Great Lives (Nashville: W Publishing Group, 2005). Copyright © 2005 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights reserved. Used by permission.