EVERYTHING HAPPENS FOR A REASON (GEN. 45:1-15)
After 20 years in the States, my wife and I decided to return to Asia for family and ministry reasons. Shortly before we arrived in Hong Kong in August, 2008, my wife decided to take a job in Macau, which was her only offer. I protested, "We didn't go to Hong Kong to be separated," which was the case on weekdays.
A year and a half later she was diagnosed with cancer. She had an operation in March 2009 that took her battered, wounded and hunched body a month to recover, followed by six cycles of chemotherapy -- an injection once every three weeks that drains and demoralizes her for the first ten days, culminating with five weeks of daily radiation. Presently she is taking five years of hormone therapy for her diet, which she supplements with Chinese medicine.
Only in sickness did we fully realize God's plan and providence for our lives. Her colleagues were very supportive, including one who is married to a pastor's daughter and another who joins her in researching faith groups. They bend backwards to sub for her and accommodate her schedule.
Unlike most sufferers, my wife did not vomit or lose weight. In fact, at one time she gained a pound for each chemo cycle. The greatest blessing was her sisters in Hong Kong who took great care of her, including one who returned from the States for five weeks to be with her. They got the apartment sanitized, carried the diet supplements to our place, and cooked lunch for her when possible.
Joseph's troubles were second to nobody. He had as hard a time in life as anyone growing up. Sold out, shipped out, shut up, he was forsaken and forgotten, but nothing could get him down. With God on his side, there was no prison cell or glass ceiling to limit him. From a young man of seventeen (Gen 37:2), Joseph was bullied and bought but he was never broken. He was ambushed, accused, and arrested but never angry or aggrieved. The new Joseph was smart, successful, and superior but what about his character? Did he become a monster a machine, or a madman? Given the chance, would he do unto others the way his brothers, his boss' wife, and fellow prisoners, specifically the butler, treat him?
What makes a person bigger than his problems and better despite his problems? Why do some people become better while others remain bitter when troubles arise? How do we overcome the hurts and humiliation of the past with honor and hope?
How does a betrayed person turn into a better and not a broken person? Why is it necessary to understand God's purpose for our lives?
Be Released from Resentment
1 Then Joseph could no longer control himself before all his attendants, and he cried out, "Have everyone leave my presence!" So there was no one with Joseph when he made himself known to his brothers. 2 And he wept so loudly that the Egyptians heard him, and Pharaoh's household heard about it. 3 Joseph said to his brothers, "I am Joseph! Is my father still living?" But his brothers were not able to answer him, because they were terrified at his presence. (Gen 45:1-3)
After two years in Hong Kong, I suddenly hear the Chinese slang "cool" (»Å) twice within one month in conversations. A church deacon I met on the ferry remarked to me that he and his wife were "cool." I thought to myself, "That's strange to compliment oneself." From where I come from, "cool" is a good thing. A cool guy in USA is a "smashing" person in England. Cool can mean great, fashionable or OK (I'm cool).
On another occasion, my wife and I had lunch with a couple, whose husband is entering seminary. He shared about the effectiveness of using Evangelism Explosion to bring ten unbelievers to the Lord, which he did not previously because he was a "cool" person.
I asked my wife what they meant, but my Hong Kong wife who has been away for too long did not get it either. So I asked another believer I met on the ferry. He said, "Cool means frosty, not talk too much." I returned to ask person number 1 and he said it means "indifferent." So, to be cool is to be cold in Hong Kong!
Joseph was the first Joe Cool and it backfired on him in a big way. Upon reuniting with his brothers, Joseph did a flawless job testing, teasing and toying with his brothers. From the moment the all-powerful Joseph met his brothers there was nothing he could not do. "Not" and "Joseph" do not go hand in hand in their previous encounters. The Bible says Joseph "saw his brothers" (Gen 42:7), "recognized his brothers" (Gen 42:8), "remembered" the dreams (Gen 42:9), "understood" their language (Gen 42:23) and "gave orders" about them (Gen 42:25).