Let’s face it. Sometimes life is hard. Life has a way of throwing you some curveballs that, in the moment, seem impossible to get through. One moment things are going well and it may feel like your having a mountain top experience. Then you get some bad news, or you get laid off, that special someone breaks up with you or maybe you get a bad diagnosisand suddenly you find yourself in the valley low of that thing we call trials.
I remember all the excitement that came with Deedre’s pregnancy and the joy of giving birth to our son Thomas. This was one of the greatest moments in my life. It felt like the beginning of The Lion King movie. Then out of no where I started to experience some severe pain in my left leg. It was caused by my sciatic nerve, which was being irritated by my pelvic bone, which was out of alignment due to the fact that I have scoliosis (curvature of the spine). The pain was so severe that it was hard to walk at night. Some people remember me walking with a limp during this time. It wasn’t me having swag, I was in pain. So after two weeks of leave, I came back to work sleep deprived and in pain. Then once this pain started to subside a little bit, then the soles of my feet started to hurt, again making it hard to walk.
Do you ever feel like if its not one thing its another? Like you just came out of one trial only to go right into another one. Does it sometimes feel like you just can’t catch a break? Then I think you’ll be able to relate with Joseph’s experience in Matthew chapter 2:13. As you enter into this story, the events surrounding the birth of Christ continue to unfold. The gospel of Luke tells the story from Mary’s perspective, but Mathew tells it from Joseph’s perspective. He has already dealt with the stress of thinking he may need to divorce Mary privately. Then rumors were starting to circulate about her scandalous pregnancy. Then to make matters worse he had to move his pregnant wife to another city on a donkey. Then he experiences the wonder of the birth of Christ, the visits from the shepherds and the testimony of angels. And then just when he feels he can catch his breath and rest in the astonishing fact that he is the earthly father of the Son of God, he is immediately thrust into a whole new trial, as we are about to discover. So grab your Bible and take out something to write with, because today Jesus wants to show us three ways to make it through your trials.
It hasn't been that long since Jesus was born and already He is a fugitive on the run. Joseph now has to deal with taking his new family and fleeing the country for their lives. And I can’t help but notice the parallels between this Joseph and the Joseph, son of Jacob in Genesis. Both were called Joseph. Both went to Egypt under dire circumstances. Both played critical roles in the family line that brought about the Messiah. But what interests me the most is that both receive dreams from God that communicate His plan for their lives. Four times in Mathew chapter 2, God is directing people through dreams; once with the Magi and three times with Joseph. You see, with every step of the trial Joseph was faced with, God had something to say to him. And it is the same thing with the trial that you are facing right now. The first thing Jesus wants you to know in order to make it through your trial is to…
Listen to what He is saying in the midst of your trial.
Ask yourself the question, “What is God saying in the midst of this?” Then ask yourself, “Am I listening?” Are you spending regular time in His Word hearing His voice? Because it is through what He spoke that He still speaks. And though His Word is His primary way of speaking to you, God will use other ways as well.
I remember in 2007, when my job was gone in recruiting, I kept trying to get back into my career in HR during the downturn of the economy, but that door remained shut. Yet, simultaneously, everything I was doing in ministry was taking off. I was giving bible studies, preaching, running a small group, held an evangelistic campaign and baptized some souls. I eventually got tired of trying to get back into HR, so I tried to start my own consulting practice from home. Around this time my Senior Pastor that I was working under said to me, “CJ, you weren’t meant for Human Resources, you were meant to resource people for the Kingdom of God.” Now initially, I was offended. Here I was with a start up recruiting consulting practice, two degrees specializing in HR and the student loan debt to show for it. What do you mean I wasn’t meant for HR! So I kept running from what God was saying. Then I started working with a new church plant. After that the conference sent me to a church planting retreat were they approached me about being certified as a lay pastor to start another church plant. Yet I still wasn’t prepared to listen. And because I wouldn’t listen, God began to speak through things like allowing me to almost foreclose on my house before I was ready to listen. Finally He confronted me to obey His voice through another pastor before I finally listened. What else does God have to do in order to get us to start listening!
In the case of Joseph, God chose to speak through dreams. Listen to what He sent His angel to tell Joseph in verse 13, “Arise, take the young Child and His mother, flee to Egypt…” Sometimes God is saying to you “I need you to leave your current situation.” Sometimes the reason you keep experiencing the trial your in is because you refuse to leave… the job, the boyfriend, the girlfriend, the church that is not teaching the truth.
But then God says to Joseph, “stay there until I bring you word.” The word from the Lord is not always leave. Sometimes it’s stay. “Your trial is temporary, stay and endure until I bring you word to come out!” Therefore you need to always be in a position to hear from the Lord. Because if you are not listening, you may miss His word to come out of your trial.
Then God tells Joseph why he needs to take his family to Egypt. “…for Herod will seek the young Child to destroy Him.” Commenting on this verse, Ellen White takes us behind the scenes of what is really behind this trial. She says, “Satan was bent on shutting out the divine light from the world, and he used his utmost cunning to destroy the Saviour.” DA P. 65 Satan’s beef was not with Joseph or Mary! And his beef is not with you! The reason you are going through what you are going through right now is because he hates the Christ in you! He wants to get Christ out of your mind, out of your speech, and out of your actions. He wants to get Him out of your character. He wants to kill the peace and the joy that Jesus gives you through the trial. The situation you are in is not about you it’s about Jesus.
And since Satan is no match for Jesus, it becomes critical to listen to what Jesus has to say in the midst of what your going through. Is God’s voice the dominant voice in your mind right now or is it Empire and Scandal? Are the other voices in your life right now drowning out the voice of the only One who can bring you out of your trial? It’s time to start silencing the noise around you and start regularly listening to His voice through the Word. Because whatever He uses to speak to you, must always line up with what He says in His Word…or God has not spoken.
“CJ” Claypole S. Cousins Jr. is simply a man who is in love with Jesus. His passion is to live, preach and teach the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In addition to preaching and teaching, CJ also loves to sing and write about Jesus. He also serves as the pastor for Grow Groups and RPCtv at Restoration Praise Center SDA Church.