-"I pour out my heart to the Lord in prayer and all I get back is silence."
-"All that I am asking Him for is just a little response so that I could know for sure!"
Many folks ask me questions that I cannot answer. One that is repeatedly asked by those who are going through some difficult times is this, "Is God trying to tell me something?" or "Do you think that this is God at work here?" I must answer with "I don't know!"
Sometimes we think that a response from God would be helpful in getting people to believe or comfort through a crisis. Certainly, when we read the Bible we that the pages are full of people who were spoken to in times of trouble. God would tell them, "Don't be afraid, I'm still in charge."
Would our faith be stronger if only God would do that for us? If every time we faced some difficulty that caused us to question God's purpose or plan, we could just ask God and He would talk to us personally, would that strengthen our faith? Yet God doesn't speak to us in these times audibly. He, in a sense, remains very silent!
Here we have a God Who is described and thought of as Our Heavenly Father and yet when tragedy comes this Father seems to be silent. How am I to believe that He is there for me personally? · Maybe you are a single person and you have tried to be faithful to God's standards and have waited and waited and waited for God to bring someone into your life, yet He seems silent.
1. What is God up to by not answering us when we so desperately need Him to talk to us?
2. What are we to do?
I want us to consider an Old Testament character this morning. His name is Joseph. Now when we look at Joseph's life, remember not to think about how it all turns out , but rather how he must have felt all along the way when God was silent.
I. Note the Jealousy over Joseph being the favorite of Jacob. v4
A. He was hated by his brothers, then the dreams made matters worse. v5-8
1. His brothers couldn't speak peaceably to him as it was.
2. Now he dreams that his whole family would bow down to him!
3. "...they hated him yet the more..."
B. Then the opportunity came when Joseph was sent to check on them near Shechem. v12-17
1. They had moved to Dothan about 25 miles away.
2. As they see him coming, they plot to kill him. v18-25
a. Reuben tries to calm them down and suggests that they put him in a pit that was nearby.
b. Reuben really wants to deliver Joseph from them and return him to their father.
c. They agree to do this and catch him, strip him of his coat, and put him in the pit.
d. As they settle down to eat supper.
e. Judah gets a great idea...let's sell him make a profit! v25-28
f. They come up with a plan to deceive Jacob and convince him that Joseph was a victim of a tragic accident with some wild beast.
C. Joseph had no assurance by a direct Word from God that everything would work out.
1. It didn't make sense to him.
2. Here I am and I've been willing to go the second mile in obedience to his father and now this.
3. He had not asked for this and it wasn't fair.
4. Still God did not intervene.
5. Perhaps Joseph thought that at least this would be better than death, but as the miles and days passed, he would no doubt begin to wonder what lay ahead for him.
6. Why? Yet God silent.
II. Joseph as a Slave in Egypt. Ge. 39-40
A. Potiphar buys Joseph.
1. Potiphar happens to be the bodyguard of the Pharoah himself.
a. Everything begins to brighten.
b. He is promoted to manager of the master's household. v6
c. He lived happily ever after! right? WRONG!
2. Joseph worked anywhere from 5 - 10 years before this promotion.
B. Meet Mrs. Potiphar. v7, 10, 12
1. She propositions Joseph.
2. Again Joseph does the right thing and gets himself into more trouble.
3. There is nothing quite so frustrating than doing right and then watching our world collapse around us.
4. It is also very discouraging to have those things happen that are beyond our control and add to our misery.
5. Joseph, falsely accused is sent to prison. v20
C. Joseph is in prison for some time.
1. We do know that he was there more than two years (Gen 41:1).
2. Joseph had no rights at all since he was a slave.
a. Think about it!
b. No rights to a trial!
c. No right of appeal!
d. Just sitting there in jail in some foreign land.
3. Would your faith still keep you going?
4. He had no future at that point humanly speaking.
5. No family to visit him on weekends.
6. He was obedient to his faith, yet he received no blessings.
7. God was silent.
D. A promotion in prison. 39:21-23
1. Joseph was entrusted with the custody of the prisoners.
2. Not immediately, but possibly after years of imprisonment.
3. Then a glimmer of hope. Gen 40:7-15
4. In an instant, that hope is gone. v 23
5. Has that ever happened to you?
6. You get your hopes up and have them crashed!
7. Joseph suffered again for doing right.
III. Joseph is Promoted. Ge. 41
A. The dreams of Pharoah.
1. Put yourself in Joseph's position for awhile.
2. Here you are before Pharoah himself.
3. Now is your chance!
4. For all those years you suffered, for all the times you did right and things got worse, now you are asked for a favor.
5. Now it's time to promote yourself!
6. Yet, listen to his words - Gen 41:16
a. He looked at Pharoah the most powerful man in the world in his day and said, It is not me; but God will give you a favorable answer.
b. AND GOD DID!!!
B. The promotion of Joseph.
1. In a brief moment of time Joseph went from slave to commander second in command of the whole nation.
2. After thirteen years of misery!
3. What happened was more than Joseph could have ever imagined.
IV. The Application.
A. Joseph had no way of knowing that all along the way, God was setting the stage for a key move in His plan to bring salvation to the whole world.
1. It would be in the nation Egypt that God would prove to the whole world His power and might by delivering the Israelites.
2. With Joseph the stage was set for the centuries to come.
B. If anything is clear in this story, it is that God's silence is in no way an indication of God's activity or involvement in our lives.
1. He may appear silent, but He is not quiet in involvement.
2. He is active!
3. We often judge God's involvement in our lives by how favorable or unfavorable our circumstances are.
a. As long as things are great, we have no doubt that God is with us.
b. As long as things are great we believe that He is watching over us, protecting us, providing for us.
c. BUT when trials come, we think, Lord where are You? Why don't you do something?
4. God's involvement cannot be judged by our appraisal of the circumstances.
5. God's involvement in our lives is measured by two things.
a. The development of His character in our lives.
b. The fulfillment of His plan.
C. For Joseph it was through each trial that God was working His plan.
1. God will use problems and trials in our lives to work His plan.
2. What are we to do?
3. When we look back on Joseph's life we can see God's plan in setting the stage for the exodus, but we have no way of knowing what God is up to right now in our lives.
4. What are we supposed to do? TRUST HIM!
When we try to take things into our own hands, we violate God's commands and jump from the frying pan into the fire. Look at Jonah! You never see anyone turn their back on God's plan and come out a winner.
When God is silent, there is only one alternative - trust HIM. He may be silent but He is not still. God is at work in the toughest trials building your character as He works His plan.
Are you a Christian today? God's plan for you is that you accept Christ. He is not willing that any should perish, but that all might come to repentance. Perhaps God is allowing certain circumstances to come into your life to bring you to the place where you will accept Him. Will you come today.
Whatever your need this morning, will you come to Him?