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How Should We Respond to Pain?

Pain is inevitable in life. Whether it’s physical, emotional, financial or relational, pain is bound to show up on your doorstep. The question is, how will you respond to it?

In Genesis 17, we read the story of a teenage boy named Joseph who had two dreams. His eleven brothers scorned Joseph for his dreams because they implied that one day they would bow before Joseph (Genesis 37:6-11). As a result, a series of painful events followed Joseph for the next 13 years of his life. 

Four types of pain, to be exact:  

1. The pain of family rejection.

One day, Joseph’s brothers decided to kill him. They ripped off his robe, threw him in a cistern and then sold him to some Ishmaelites for 20 pieces of silver (Genesis 37:28). Twenty pieces of silver in that day was what people paid for a slave who had some kind of physical handicap, and yet Joseph was perfectly healthy.

In fact, Scripture describes Joseph as being “well-built and handsome.”

2. The pain of false accusation.

After the Ishmaelites took Joseph to Egypt, they sold him to Potiphar, who was the captain of Pharaoh’s guard. Potiphar’s wife constantly tried to entice Joseph to sleep with her, but he refused. One day, she grabbed his robe and Joseph fled. When Potiphar came home, she said:

“That Hebrew slave you’ve brought into our house tried to come in and fool around with me,” she said. “But when I screamed, he ran outside, leaving his cloak with me!” Potiphar was furious when he heard his wife’s story about how Joseph had treated her. So he took Joseph and threw him into the prison where the king’s prisoners were held, and there he remained. (Genesis 39:17b-20, NLT)

Potiphar’s wife falsely accused Joseph of attempted rape. As a result, he ends up in prison where he struggles with a third type of pain.

3. The pain of a forgotten existence.

While in prison, Joseph interprets the dreams of Pharaoh’s baker and cupbearer. He tells the baker he will be killed, but tells the cupbearer he will be restored to his position in the kingdom. Then, after he interprets his dream, Joseph tells the cupbearer to plead his case before Pharaoh. What happened? Genesis 40:23 (NLT) says, “Pharaoh’s chief cupbearer, however, forgot all about Joseph, never giving him another thought.” 

Joseph experienced the pain of a forgotten existence for two years. Not only was he forgotten by the cupbearer, he must have felt forgotten by God. Perhaps you’ve felt the same way.