Many of us can relate to Joseph’s traumatic experiences with his family members because it is similar to our own sad experiences with our family members – in-laws, biological parents, step-parents, elder siblings, and other relatives simply because we are who we are and being who we are. Many of us have suffered severe insult, bullying, diverse forms of abuse, ridicule, discrimination, condemnation, intimidation, destructive criticism, molestation, victimization, and oppression. It is pathetic to say that some have even suffered hunger, been treated as slaves, severely tortured physically, mentally, emotionally, psychologically, and given death threats and some have died as a result of severe beatings by their family members.
Honestly speaking, one of the most terrible and devastating challenges anyone can face in life is suffering the above mentioned in the hands of family members; those who are supposed to be closest to one, those of same blood, same household; those who are supposed to love, protect, assist and care for us; those who we are supposed to run to for help and comfort when maltreated by outsiders. Sincerely speaking, no one deserves been maltreated by anyone, much less by family members. Being hated, rejected, deserted, discriminated against, abandoned, victimized, abused, despised, tortured, forsaken forgotten negates everything the family stands for. Experiencing them are capable of making even the strongest of men to become disoriented, heartbroken, traumatized, timid, frustrated, withdrawn, shattered, downcast, dejected, depressed, and hopelessly hopeless to the point of even contemplating suicide. Suicide is not an option at all.
Ironically, as pointed out earlier in this write-up Joseph passed through them all and remained fearless, strong, courageous, unbroken, and unstoppable. Also mentioned was the fact that his secret was borne out of the fact that he loved and trusted greatly in God’s love for him. This great love for God was as a result of great faith. This implies Joseph had exceptional faith in God which birthed the great love he had for God. Nothing but the highest faith in the wisdom, mercy, faithfulness, and loving kindness of God can make one remain fearless, unbroken, and maintain one’s sanity in such a very hostile family setting with so much hatred and wickedness.
At this point, there is need for us all to have a proper understanding of how Joseph’s faith in God, his awareness of God’s love for him and his great trust in God’s love for him were instrumental to helping him overcome this great life challenge of not been broken in the face of family hostilities and wickedness.
Joseph’s conviction as a believer was among the first topics treated about him. He was not just a believer but a very strong believer with great faith in God even at his tender age. He had a personal relationship with God. He lived a consecrated life unto God and lived a daily life of the continued consciousness of God’s presence with him. Joseph has great faith in God; God was the absolute center of his life, his fixed loyalty, and priority. Although he was aware of the fact that his earthly father loved him greatly, yet his trust was not in his earthly father’s love because he knew human love had limitations. His father’s love couldn’t safe him in time of trouble. He trusted in God’s love for him, because of whom God is as the Sovereign God who is in control of all things and who nothing or situation can alter His nature, character, plans, and words. God helped him according to His promise of helping, defending, and protecting His children, Isaiah 41:10-11.
THE COMMANDMENT TO LOVE GOD AND YOUR NEIGHBORS
Unknown to most of us is the simple fact that the giving of the two commandments on loving God and our neighbors by God among others is for our utmost good, Leviticus 19:18; Deuteronomy 6:5. Our Lord Jesus categorically revealed that loving God and loving our neighbors as ourselves are the greatest of all the commandments because in fulfilling them, all the other eight commandments are fulfilled, Matthew 22:39. The importance and benefits of obeying the commandments which Jesus Christ referred to as the greatest commandments (Matthew 22:39) are immeasurable.
Loving God is a commandment given in the right direction for us to reciprocate His love because He loved us first. Therefore, loving God is not only the right thing to do but also the most deserving response from all men to God for His great love for humanity. Loving God involves obedience to all His commandments and loving all others regardless of who they are. John 14:21; 1 John 4: 21.
From the Scripture, we learned that God is Love among others, 1 John 4: 8, 16. This implies Love is His essence; everything about Him is love – His Nature, Life, Character, Actions. All He does for mankind is propelled and motivated by love. This God who is love because of His great love for man created the first man Adam (male and female) in His image and likeness and breathed into his nostrils, Genesis 1:27. This implies that man possessed God’s attributes which include Love, Genesis 2:19-20; 3:6-7; 9:6, Ephesians 4: 24. That is, man has part of God’s essence and also his life and character which is also love, though to a lesser degree. This further goes to reveal that love is also man’s essence; love is his nature, character, and life.
On the basis of man being a relational creature having God’s love attribute, they could love God and respond in love to Him and His doings. They lived in a personal love relationship with God that involved moral obedience and intimate communion Genesis 2:15-17; Ephesians 4;24.
Man as one with God’s type of love could also love himself, appreciate and take proper care of himself/herself. They could love and care for all things in nature around them.
When Adam and Eve sinned by disobeying God’s commandment, they became alienated from God and became depraved. This implied they were no longer the perfect being God created them to be. They couldn’t love God, themselves, and other creatures like they did before because of fear, shame, hate, and the guilt of their sin was ever before them until more sins eroded godly love from their hearts.
However, God in His infinite mercy and love for mankind redeemed man through His gracious salvation through His beloved Son Jesus Christ back to Himself. As many that believe in Jesus Christ, He gave them the power to become sons of God and have the love of God spread abroad his heart, John 1: 12-13, Romans 5:5. With God’s love in the heart, each believer possesses God’s love likeness – God’s type of love. With this, we can uniquely love Him, have correct self-love, and reflect His love to other creations. He, therefore, commanded us to love Him and our fellow human beings as ourselves as proof of our faith in Him.
REWARDS OF LOVING GOD
In the Scripture are some of God’s rewards for those who love Him. These rewards were evident in Joseph’s life as follows:
a) Preservation – all that love Him shall be preserved. He preserved Joseph’s life by not allowing him to be killed in all his near-death experiences, Psalm 145:20; Zechariah 2:8.
b) Deliverance – those who set their love on him shall be delivered, Psalm 91:14-15.
c) The manifestation of God’s presence, John 14: 21-23. God is love and dwells wherever true love is. His presence is made manifest in the life of anyone that loves him like Joseph. and testified by others in Genesis 39:2-3; 21.
d) All things work together for those who love him, Romans 8:28. This was the experience of Joseph.
e) God has unimaginable things prepared for those who love him, 1 Corinthians 2:9. The blessings and other things that God made Joseph enjoy as a ruler in Egypt were not envisaged by him.
(f) A crown of righteousness awaits those who love his appearing, 2 Timothy 4: 8. 2.
(g) A crown of life for those who love him, James 1:12.
(h) The kingdom is promised those who love him, James 2:5.
THE TRUSTWORTHINESS OF GOD’S LOVE FOR US
A proper understanding of some of the attributes of God’s love will make us know that we can trust in His love for each of us as Joseph did. God’s love is true, Holy, limitless, immeasurable, without boundaries or borders. God’s love for us is so powerful and strong that nothing on earth or in heaven can separate the beloved from Him, Romans 8; 35-39.
35)”Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulations, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? …
37) Nay, in all these we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.
38) For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,
39) Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
God’s Love is unchanging – it is not subject to change, it remains the same no matter what happens, Hebrews 13:8. God’s love can never wane, nor grow old, can never fail. He remains love regardless of what we do. God’s love is Omniscient; love that knows everything there is to know that pertains to the beloved – everything about the past, present and future, dreams, aspirations, needs; just name it! God’s Love is Omnipresent; He is ever-present with His beloved. He openly declares His love for the beloved. God’s love is not an occasional love but all days and season kind of love. It is everywhere present and accessible to all. This implies God’s love is everywhere present, even where you are right now! The echo of His love is relayed to mankind every minute in His glory as revealed in the heavens on a daily basis. His creations everywhere relay His great love for man at all times. God’s Love is not passive but an active one, that motivates, inspires, cares, encourages and brings out the best of the beloved.
From the few things mentioned about God’s love, we know that His love can be relied upon without any iota of fear, failure, or disappointment. One can depend on and trust Him with one’s whole life as Joseph did.
Having faith in God’s love for you means you believe so much in God’s love for you to the extent that no matter the challenging situation that confronts you, no matter the negative words anyone tells you, no matter the number of haters around you, you don’t look or take cognizance notice of them, or take them to heart or think about them. You know and you are sure of God’s presence with you and also that God loves you and is for you because you are precious and honorable in His sight, Isaiah 43:4. Hear His word “… Yea, I have loved you with an everlasting love: therefore with loving kindness have I drawn thee” – Jeremiah 31:3. Just trust Him as Joseph did.
Loving God and the assurance of being loved by Him perform great wonders in the heart of man. When one lives in the joyful comfort of God’s loving-kindness and care, one becomes optimistic amid discouragement, strong amid weakness/brokenness, patient amid tribulations, brave amid danger, calm amid strive, cheerful amid gloominess and hopeful amid hopelessness, Psalm 112:7; Psalm 119: 165; Isaiah 26: 3-4: 1 John 4:18.
WHAT TO DO IN TIMES OF CRISIS
- Pray in your heart asking God to step into the situation and help you.
- Be conscious of God’s presence with you, so never be afraid because you are not alone.
- Determine not to take to heart any negative pronouncements by anyone.
- Be silent; don’t answer back at the people making trouble with you.
- Apologize to them whether they are right or wrong.
- Lift your heart to God in praises and thanksgiving while the assault os going on.
- Confess God’s promises to you.
- Be in control of your emotions.
- Hold on to God’s love no matter what happens, Habakkuk 3:17-18.
AS LONG AS YOU KNOW THAT GOD LOVES AND HAVE UNFLINCHING TRUST IN HIS LOVE FOR YOU, NOTHING DONE OR SAID BY ANYONE CAN BREAK YOU, JUST TRUST AND OBEY.
To be continued here.