A Story of Many Layers

In just five short days we start our new semester of classes. I don’t know about you, but I’m really looking forward to seeing everyone again, hearing about everyone’s break and starting afresh in studying God’s Word together. If you have not registered for a class yet, you might want to take a few minutes now to save yourself some time on Tuesday. All registrations will need to be done online. You can register here, or if you’d like a little help with the process, Lana and members of the Women’s Ministry team will be available to help you register at the Women’s Ministry Booth this weekend or in the front lobby on Tuesday morning.

If you are anything like me, the biggest challenge I have each semester is deciding which class to take. I often wish I could take them all. Since that is impossible, I thought it might be nice to hear from some members of last semester’s classes with a brief update on what they learned. We heard a little about the Beautiful Offering class before the break. This week, Jennifer Hilkemann has agreed to share with us a few insights she gleaned from the Joseph class. 

colored layersWhat an eye-opening experience the Joseph class was this fall!  For those who have heard the Joseph story numerous times and think you know what it is all about, I can assure you, there are more layers of insight to be revealed than we will EVER fully realize!

It was so inspiring to come together with a group of women who are authentic in their everyday quest to live their lives with God at the center, regardless of their circumstances.  As we learned about Joseph and the 13 years he was in prison, how he learned to trust God’s sovereignty, it helped each of us put our own challenges in perspective.  We want to see immediate improvement in our struggles.  It takes absolute trust in the Lord to know He will use our trials for his glory, even if we don’t see the outcome in our lifetime.

To see the heart of forgiveness Joseph has with his brothers who sold him in to slavery is so very humbling.  After years of hardship and abuse, Joseph grows in his trust in the Lord and embodies his faith when he tells his brothers, ”You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” (Genesis 50: 20)  God wants us to be whole when we come out of our trials.  It is through these difficulties God works in our hearts to make us in to the people he wants us to become.  Without these trials we will be unprepared for the work He wants us to do on earth.

Understanding this is life changing.  It has helped me endure some of the most difficult and painful times in my life recently and has caused me to ask God to help me grow and understand how to use the pain for his Glory, rather than asking for Him to take it away .

While Joseph is at the heart of the story, I am also inspired by the lessons we can learn from the lives of Jacob and of Judah.  Jacob, a man after God’s heart, who even wrestled with God and was given the name Israel, floundered in his faith.  Even though he doubted the Lord about taking his family to Egypt and was hardened by the loss of his son Joseph, God’s sovereignty prevailed and his promise to Jacob to establish him a great nation was fulfilled.

Even more amazing to me is the story of Judah.  The brother who lead the others in selling Joseph into slavery, his own heart filled with jealousy and greed, is ultimately transformed by God.  By the end of the book of Genesis, not only is trust restored between Joseph and Judah, but Jacob blesses him and sees him as the great leader God has in store for him.  It is out of Judah’s line that Jesus, the Messiah, is born.  AMAZING!!

What a study this has been!  A study rich in God’s truth, inspiration and fellowship. My prayer for each of us is that we embody the lessons we have learned through studying the life of Joseph and his family and that their story may transform our view of suffering to an opportunity to build and grow our trust in the Lord, His Divine sovereignty and unending grace.

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