My son’s favorite Bible story is the story of Joseph and how he overcame being sold into slavery, being falsely accused and sent to prison, and being neglected until God intervened and made him indispensable to the Pharaoh of Egypt. In reading this account in Genesis recently I noticed something that I hadn’t really thought about before. Take a look.
When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “What if Joseph holds a grudge against us and pays us back for all the wrongs we did to him?” So they sent word to Joseph, saying, “Your father left these instructions before he died: ‘This is what you are to say to Joseph: I ask you to forgive your brothers the sins and the wrongs they committed in treating you so badly.’ Now please forgive the sins of the servants of the God of your father.” When their message came to him, Joseph wept. His brothers then came and threw themselves down before him. “We are your slaves,” they said. But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. So then, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children.” And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them. Genesis 50:15-21, New International Version or NIV).
Joseph had completely forgiven his brothers because he could see the bigger picture of what God had done through his own life to save his family. That family was the seed of the nation of Israel and Joseph got it, he understood the plan! But at the last of this passage Joseph is found reassuring his brothers, he was comforting them because they feared he would retaliate now that their Father was dead. Who comforted Joseph? What? Joseph went through some horrible situations in his life and he was without his beloved Father who thought Joseph was dead. His Mother was dead by the time he was sold into slavery. So who comforted Joseph?
“My days are swifter than a runner; they fly away without a glimpse of joy. They skim past like boats of papyrus, like eagles swooping down on their prey. If I say, ‘I will forget my complaint, I will change my expression, and smile,’ I still dread all my sufferings, for I know you will not hold me innocent. Since I am already found guilty, why should I struggle in vain? Job 9:25-29, (NIV).
Who comforted Job while God demonstrated to Satan that there really were righteous men still on earth? Job didn’t know that he was the object lesson for Satan. Job had a wife who told him to curse God and die. He had three friends who told him all his suffering was as a result of some unrepentant sin. Who comforted Job?
When Esther’s words were reported to Mordecai, he sent back this answer: “Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape. For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” Esther 4:12-14, (NIV).
Who comforted Queen Esther when her uncle Mordecai informed her that since she was a Jew she would have to die as all the Jewish people would when the King’s edict was carried out? Imagine having been exalted from a poor orphan to queen and then because she was Jewish and enemies hated the Jewish people and convinced your husband to kill all of the Jews! That must have been a very frightening experience to go through. Who comforted Queen Esther?
The crowd joined in the attack against Paul and Silas, and the magistrates ordered them to be stripped and beaten with rods. After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully. When he received these orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks. Acts 16:22-24, (NIV).
Who comforted the Apostle Paul and Silas as they went through the humiliation of being stripped and then the pain of being beaten with rods? Who was there to comfort them and to give them the strength to bear up under such pain? But what they did next is almost too good to be true!
About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose. The jailer woke up, and when he saw the prison doors open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself because he thought the prisoners had escaped. But Paul shouted, “Don’t harm yourself! We are all here!” Acts 16:25-28, (NIV).
Would you have the strength to sing hymns and pray after being beaten so severely? Would you as a survivor of an earthquake while still chained up speak out to save the jailer from committing suicide? We can see what a comfort Paul was to the jailer but who comforted Paul? Who comforted Silas?
Who is comforting you today as you face a difficult situation? Who comforts you as you grieve? As you cry out in pain, as you deal with a rebellious and out-of-control person, as you fight depression that seems to want to destroy you, as you reel from bad things happening upon bad things? Who comforts all of us when we face mountains of obstacles in our lives?
You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it. “If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. John 14: 14-18, (NIV).
“All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:25-27, (NIV).
The Holy Spirit was sent by God at the request of Jesus Christ to comfort you today if you are a believer in Jesus. The Holy Spirit will bring that soothing balm of peace and that determination that you will pull through this situation, this grief, this illness, and this tough time! The Holy Spirit interprets your prayers to God, is your advocate before the throne of grace and mercy, that guidance counselor that helps you find the next right thing to do. Just as Joseph faced tragedy upon tragedy in his young life yet didn’t die a bitter old man, just as Job faced heartbreak after heartbreak but didn’t die a bitter old man, just like Queen Esther gathered all her wits about her and faced down death to her people, just like you are overcoming evil with good, the Holy Spirit of God is working to bring you comfort. You are not an orphan even if your earthly families are all gone because you have a heavenly family to cheer you on. Some of those old saints went through much misery and know how you are feeling right now. They are cheering you on right now! What a cloud of witnesses they are to overcoming the bad and living in spite of it all for the glory of God! You are comforted today! Enjoy the peace that only God can bring to you through Jesus Christ! Hang in there!