06/23/17 Trusting in the Present Tense

READING: Esther 9-10, Acts 7:1-21

“The patriarchs became jealous of Joseph and sold him into Egypt, but God was with him . . . .”

Acts 7:9

Sometimes I need a reminder that God is in control. I know that truth intellectually, but it’s easy to forget it when your own life seems out of control. That is, it’s easy to tell others to trust God in the storm, but it’s not so easy to trust Him when the waves are crashing into your boat.

That’s when I need to read Stephen’s sermon in Acts 7 again. This sermon emphasizes God leadership and sovereignty over His people, beginning with His calling out Abraham to a land He promised “as a possession, and to his descendants after him, even though he was childless” (Acts 7:4). Within that narrative of Abraham’s lineage was the story of Joseph, favored son of the patriarch, Jacob. In his sermon before the leaders, Stephen concisely summarized Joseph’s life with these words: “The patriarchs became jealous of Joseph and sold him into Egypt, but God was with him and rescued him out of all his troubles. He gave him favor and wisdom in the sight of Pharaoh, king of Egypt, who appointed him ruler over Egypt and over his whole household” (Acts 7:9).

God was indeed with Joseph, but Stephen’s summary left out some of the details of Joseph’s life. Yes, God rescued Joseph from his troubles, but not before allowing him to go through those troubles in the first place. God did not stop his brothers from selling him into slavery, nor did he prevent Potiphar’s wife from falsely accusing Joseph of rape. God allowed Joseph’s imprisonment following the false charges, and He did not intervene when the chief cupbearer of the king forgot Joseph after his own release from prison. For two additional years, Joseph remained in prison before his release.

Stephen chose, though, to emphasize God’s presence with Joseph rather than the details of his difficulties. God was with Joseph, even when he was by himself in the pagan land of Egypt. It may have seemed like God was not in control at the time, but not so. We look back on the story now as Stephen did, and we see that God was very much with Joseph – He simply chose to work in the patriarch’s life according to His timing and His plan. A retrospective look into Joseph’s life should, then, increase our faith.

The bigger struggle for us is to trust that He is with us when our troubles are in the present tense. May God help us to lean on Him more because of what we read in His Word today.

ACTION STEPS: 

  • Remember some times when you now look back and see God’s hand, even though you may have struggled with faith at the time.
  • If you’re ready to give up in following God today, trust Him anyway. Keep believing. 

PRAYER: “God, thank You for watching over my life. Grant me faith in the present tense."  

TOMORROW’S READING:  Job 1-2, Acts 7:22-43