Suffering and Joy in Obedience

 •  3 min. read  •  grade level: 8
Joseph’s brothers took away his coat of many colors and then cast him into an empty pit. Poor Joseph! He had been obedi­ent, and yet he had to suffer. Yes, chil­dren, we often have to suffer if we are obedient to God and His Word, but Peter tells us “if ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye” (1 Peter 4:14). I would much rather have been Joseph with all his suffering than one of his wicked brethren. Their time of suf­fering came later. There is always an inward happiness in pleasing the Lord, but there is nothing more miserable than a bad conscience like Joseph’s brethren had until they finally confessed their sin. Far, far better to suffer than to yield to Satan’s temptations and have a bad conscience and a blighted life.
The Perfect Example of Obedience
We need hardly say that the Lord Jesus, of whom Joseph was a type, is a perfect example of obedience. The Jews sought to rob Him of His coat of many colors — His glories — but He went on patiently doing His Father’s will in spite of all the suffering He had to pass through. Who suffered as He did? And yet in the midst of it all He “rejoiced in spirit” (Luke 10:2121In that hour Jesus rejoiced in spirit, and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes: even so, Father; for so it seemed good in thy sight. (Luke 10:21)), because He found His greatest joy in doing what pleased His Father. Then at the end of His per­fect life they took and nailed Him to the cross — not only in a pit like Joseph — and did every horrible thing they could to Him as He hung there. They spit in His face, crowned Him with thorns, and finally offered Him vinegar to drink, yet He endured it all and said, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:3434Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots. (Luke 23:34)). What wonderful love He had, even for His enemies who hated Him without a cause.
Oh day of man’s dishonor,
When for thy grace supreme,
He sought to mar Thine honor,
Thy glory turn to shame.
Religion Without Christ
After Joseph’s brothers had cast him into the pit, they sat down to eat bread. How little they cared for him although he had not done them any harm, but rather showed kindness to them. In this, too, they were like the Jews, who, after crucifying Christ their Messiah, could sit down to eat the passover. Little did they realize the emptiness of the form, without Christ the true Pass­over, and yet how many there are today who go on with ceremonies and even eat the Lord’s supper while re­jecting Him in their hearts. Surely they are bringing condemnation on them­selves by such an act. There is nothing more blinding than religion without Christ, and I want to warn you against the empty formal­ism of the present day. It is hateful to God, as He said to Israel of old, “I hate, I despise your feast days” (Amos 5:2121I hate, I despise your feast days, and I will not smell in your solemn assemblies. (Amos 5:21)). God wants truth in the inward parts, and nothing that a sinner can do has any value in the sight of God if he is rejecting Christ in his heart.
While Joseph’s brothers were eating bread, a company of Ishmaelites came along, and his brothers sold him to them for twenty pieces of silver. The Lord Jesus, many years later, was sold for thirty pieces of silver “that in all things He might have the preeminence” (Colossians 1:1818And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. (Colossians 1:18)). Poor Joseph was then carried down into Egypt, just as the Lord was sold and delivered into the hands of the Gentiles.
Further Meditation
1. What did Joseph’s brothers do after they cast him into the pit?
2. No one naturally delights in suffering. However, in a world of sin it is rather common. Where in the New Testament is a Christian guaranteed that they will experience persecution, a form of suffering?
3. The pamphlet Joy in Suffering by R. Elliott provides some real refreshment for those who are going through difficult times for the Lord.