The Long Game

James 1

Sunday, October 2, 2022

The letter of James has some of the most immediately practical wisdom you can find in the Bible. Some have called it the “Proverbs of the New Testament.” If you are looking for guidelines about how a Christian should live, James is a great place to start.

The only problem is that some of James’ advice is hard to take: 

“My brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of any kind, consider it nothing but joy, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance; and let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking in nothing.” (James 1:2-4 NRSV)

I don’t know about you, but when I’m going through difficult things in life, I’m not feeling joy. Isn’t joy supposed to be reserved for things that are… joyful? Isn’t joy for when people get married, or when babies are born, or when a new season of your favorite show is available to stream, or when you are going to have tacos? Yes, joy is for the good things in life.

So why does it sound like James is telling us to enjoy suffering? Is he insane?

Well, no. In order to understand what he is saying, we have to think of the long game. We’re not to be joyful because of the difficult times we are facing, but because of the growth potential they provide for us. Going through things teaches us to endure, and being able to endure makes us more mature and complete. Pressures shape us into stronger people. Recall that if you subject carbon to intense heat and pressure, you get diamonds!

Consider any elite athlete. They didn’t get where they are by accident, but through years of difficult and intense training. Do you think they truly enjoyed all of that training? Of course not, but I bet they did enjoy knowing that through their training, they were going to be the GOAT at their sport.

If you want your muscles to become stronger, you have to progressively challenge them. Likewise, when our faith is challenged, it also becomes stronger. James is asking us to take on the right attitude of joy during our times of discomfort, because we know that through those challenges, we are deepening and growing our faith.

In thinking about all these things, I’m reminded of the time Jesus was in the garden of Gethsemane, under unimaginable distress because he knew he would soon lose his life. Imminent death is the kind of thing that would test anyone’s faith, even Jesus. He didn’t want to go through with it any more than you’d want to drive a stake into your own eye socket. In his situation, I would have been tempted to just run away and wash my hands of the whole thing. I’d say to myself, “This whole messiah business has taken quite a turn and I just want a quiet life somewhere.” I can imagine he had that same temptation. Surely he didn’t enjoy being betrayed, put on trial, scourged, and nailed to a piece of wood to die in total humiliation.

Jesus didn’t have to do what he did, but he was thinking of the long game. Yes, he knew he would face a horrible death, but deep in his heart he had something resembling joy. Not joy because of the circumstances he was enduring, but because of what was just over the horizon. It was this joy and hope that allowed him to muster the strength to say with his dying breath, “It is finished.” He knew that his dying would mean, paradoxically, conquering over the powers of sin and death, and leading us on a mass exodus out of their clutches. He knew that his resurrection would unleash a new reign of God on the earth and again put us at one with God.

Jesus did what he did because he was thinking of us.

-Jay Laurent

A couple questions to reflect on:

1. What are some trials or difficult times that you have had to endure?

2. Can you think of any ways you grew as a result of these times?

Our Response to a Corrupt World

2 Timothy 3

Tuesday, September 13, 2022

Though I’ve always struggled with anxiety, I can trace a lot of my childhood anxiety back to one source: the 5 o’clock news. I dreaded the hour-and-a-half each evening that my Dad would sit down in his recliner and turn on the television to hear the journalists report the sad and scary happenings of the day. I grew up near Dayton, Ohio, which has several times been on the “ten most dangerous cities (of its size) in the USA” list, so there were a lot of terrifying updates about local robberies and murders, not to mention domestic and global catastrophes, such as the Persian Gulf War and the Oklahoma City bombing. My tender heart had great difficulty accepting such chaos and pain in the world. 

Then as a sophomore in college, I witnessed a hit-and-run, a robbery gone awry that resulted in the vehicular homicide of a sweet man, beloved in his community. I was forced to relive that terrible day many times over the next several years as a prime subpoenaed witness, until a series of unfortunate mishaps with the trials resulted in the guilty suspects being released with a clean record. I was aghast that the lawyers could be so slimy as to defend people who were clearly guilty of theft and murder, and that such evil could exist in the first place. 

With all the terrible things in the world today, it causes me to wonder, how much worse could it actually have been back in Genesis 6 when God felt he needed to start again with godly people on Earth?

The world became corrupt again after Noah, and the wickedness in human hearts has continued for millenia. Paul warned Timothy, starting in verse 2, that in the final days, “people will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power.” Paul reminds Timothy to stay away from such people. That list sure sounds like the tendencies of a lot of people in this world and on the news today… and if I’m being completely honest, it sounds a lot like me at times too, when I lose my Christ-focus. I, too, have been “such people.”  I am a sinner saved by grace, and I need to humbly remember how Jesus has saved me. I also need to be careful when I am in the world, to not be of it; it is important to not be influenced by people who are doing evil things, or I might sway to become a part of the sin and be pulled away from my relationship with God. Yes, we need to share the love of Jesus with everyone, but also have boundaries in those relationships.

Sometimes new Christians think that following Jesus should be The Easy Life, but the Bible is very clear that we will have difficulties as followers of Jesus. In verse 12, Paul promises that “everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” Jesus himself said that we will have trouble, but he has overcome the world! (John 16:33). So Paul reminds Timothy two verses later to keep focused on what he has learned, keep the legacy of faith alive. By focusing on what we knew in the good times, we can have the strength to make it through the difficult times. 

Then in verse 16, he reminds Timothy that the scripture is a guidebook for life, a manual for living. By following the God-breathed scriptures, we can have the training and correction we need to be ready to do good work for him, and (I would add) to fight any battle that we might face: “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” I believe that is true today as well. The scriptures have survived for thousands of years because God wanted us to have them as a roadmap for our journey in this life, His special guidance through which He still speaks to us. 

I’ll never forget how I beamed with pride as I sat in the front seat of our old red Dodge Omni hatchback, filled to the brim with camping supplies for our family’s annual vacation to the Hocking Hills KOA campground, with the Rand McNally road atlas sprawled over my 10-year-old lap. I was my Dad’s “navigator”; I had the very important job of following the criss-cross lines on the map (which my Dad had conveniently highlighted prior to our departure) to help us arrive at our vacation destination, leading the way for the rest of the clan in the car behind us. Until I was a young adult, I believed I was a good navigator. However, when my husband Dan and I got married and began to go on trips together (before smartphones were commonplace and while GPS car systems were still out of our price range), I realized that a modern Ferdinand Magellan I was not. As a directionally-challenged individual, my mis-reading of maps led us on many, shall we say, unplanned adventures. (Now, we reminisce about those frustrating adventures with a half-smile as we thank God for the invention of Google Maps and data plans.) It turns out that I wasn’t the navigator at all; my Dad had already highlighted the route and knew where he was going. He gave me the map and taught me how to read it at a basic level, but ultimately he was leading us the whole time. Likewise, God has given us a map (the Bible), and He shows us the best way to live. But we need to read His word, study His “map” and seek His ways for our lives through prayer and wise counsel. Then we will be better equipped to do His work. 

-Rachel Cain

Reflection questions: 

As a Christian, we are guaranteed persecution in this life. Think and pray about ways that you can prepare yourself to face those trials.

In what practical ways can you encourage and support other Believers who are facing trials? 

Look back on your life. How have you felt God’s leading through prayer and His word? How do you sense Him leading you today? (It’s a great idea to keep a journal of God’s faithfulness and answered prayers, which you can read again during difficult times!)

Your Reputation Precedes You

2 Thessalonians 1

Friday, September 2

In a small school, the teachers seem to know who most people are, whether it is because of their achievements or their families.  At the beginning of each new school year, they try to figure out if they know you.  However, for them to know who you are, somebody else has had to tell them about you, and whatever they’ve been told is the reputation that you start with, in that class.  It’s great if they had positive things to say about you, but for those who didn’t have great things said about them, it can hurt.


Verse 4 of 2 Thessalonians 1 says, “Therefore, among God’s churches we boast about your perseverance and faith in all the persecutions and trials you are enduring.”  Paul is telling the Thessalonians that he tells all the other believers about their great faith.  It is one thing for Paul to go tell the Thessalonians that they are doing really well as they stand firm in their faith, but it is a whole other thing when he goes to tell everyone else about it.


Is your faith so evident that people talk about it with others?  The Thessalonians had faith like that and we should too.  The Thessalonians’ faith was strong enough that the other believers were talking about it among themselves, but what’s even more important is that those who aren’t believers notice our faith.  We need to work to be that light in other people’s lives that they might talk about and wonder about it.


Matthew 5:16 says, “In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”  We need to make sure that when we do try to make our faith evident, it isn’t so that we are praised for it.  We need to make sure that God is the one who is getting all the glory for our faith while we try to be a light to others.  When we do this, we will have a reputation that goes before us, just like many students do in a small school, that will bring glory to God.

-Kaitlyn Hamilton

Questions for Reflection and Discussion

  1. Who do you know who is known for a growing faith and love and perseverance in the midst of trials and persecution? Thank God for them. And, like Paul, you can also tell them that you thank God for them.
  2. What do you think your fellow employees or classmates or teachers at church or school would say about you? What do you think your neighbors would say about you? What do you think the cashier would say about you? Are they right? How did you get this reputation?
  3. What is Paul’s main point in the rest of 2 Thessalonians (verses 5-12)?

What to do with the Difficult Times

Ecclesiastes 3

Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Whether you know it or not, you’re probably familiar with the first few verses of Ecclesiastes 3:

1 There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:

2  a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot,

3  a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build,

4  a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance,

5  a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,

6  a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away,

7  a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak,

8  a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.

I like about half the things listed, and would rather not have the other half, but life just doesn’t work that way.  We have to take the bad with the good.

I was at a funeral last Saturday when these verses were read.  It seems like this passage is mostly referenced during difficult times – because we don’t need to be reminded about these things during happy times.  When someone is born, we don’t want to be reminded that they will eventually die.  But when someone dies, we need to be reminded that this world has both good and bad, and we can’t just pick and choose what happens in life.

Verse 11 goes on to say, “He has made everything beautiful in its time.  He has also set eternity in the hearts of men…”.  

Does this mean that death is beautiful?; that cancer is beautiful?; that problems are beautiful?  No, not in themselves.  But the rest of the verse goes on to say that God has set eternity in the hearts of men.  I think that means these experiences make us long for the time when these problems will be a thing of the past.  When there will be no more death, or mourning, or crying, or pain – in the Kingdom of God. 

We mentioned Romans 8:22-23 a couple of days ago, which says, “We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies.”

In addition to pain and suffering being consequences of the Curse (Genesis 3) as a result of sin, I believe God uses these to help us long for His coming kingdom.  This longing helps us refocus our lives on following Him.  It also helps us not place too much importance on the temporary things this world has to offer.

James 1: 2-4 says, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

I believe this points out that difficulties we face in life can produce perseverance, helping us mature in our Christian walk, and helping us become more persistent in living for the Lord.  And if we finish strong – living our lives for the Lord – we will be in His kingdom, experiencing delight for eternity.  

So because difficulties can draw us closer to God, which will cause us to live more dedicated lives for Him, with the ultimate result of being in His kingdom, in this sense, everything works together for our ultimate good, and is therefore beautiful.  Even though it might seem like something stinks at the time, it can be beautiful – but only if it makes you long for the Kingdom of God and then live your life devoted to following Him.

If difficult times make us resent that God permitted these times, and if we reject God as a result of this, then we can look forward to Ecclesiastes 3:17 which says, “…God will bring to judgment both the righteous and the wicked…”

I’d like to challenge you to let the difficult times draw you closer to God.  But it’s entirely up to you how you respond.

–Steve Mattison

Application Questions

  1. What difficult times have you been through? What good times have you enjoyed?
  2. What can be learned through the good times? What can be learned through the difficult days (and seasons)?
  3. Looking back on your own life (or the example of someone else) can you see times when the trials and hardships have prompted spiritual growth and perseverance and a re-focusing on what truly matters, including of course eternal life with God and Jesus in the coming Kingdom of God?

Even on My Hardest Day

Psalm 22

Friday, July 9, 2022

Ever have a bad day? Maybe there were relationship troubles. Maybe a conflict or difficult day at work. Maybe all the little things just added up to having a no fun day. I know I’ve had days like that. But, when I read Psalm 22, I realized maybe my days aren’t that bad.

I’ve never been poured out like water with all my bones out of joint. There have never been lions and bulls all around me. ALL the people that saw me didn’t mock me and hurl insults at me. I have never been encircled by a pack of villains that pieced my hands and feet. Now, granted, the lions and dogs and bulls are metaphors for the enemies, but I wouldn’t describe the boy in kindergarten who told me I couldn’t cut well, or the girl who pushed me on the playground, as bulls or lions.

According to the notes in my study Bible, this psalm is the most quoted psalm in the New Testament. And, it fits Jesus’ circumstances, hence Jesus quoting the first part of it while on the cross. He was tortured and tormented for things he didn’t deserve, and I’m sure it hurt more than rude kids on the playground.

This psalm goes on, with David mentioning many hardships, but he doesn’t just ask God to magically fix his circumstances instantly. Instead, the end of the psalm talks about praising the LORD. That’s pretty impressive, and I think it should be a goal of mine, to take hard situations and continue to praise God and tell others about Him.

I’m going to use this psalm as a reminder of the no pain, no hardships time of the Kingdom. And to go about my days, whether difficult or seemingly easy, praising God and knowing that it’ll just get better in the Kingdom, because of what Jesus did for us and the plan God has for us.

-Moriah Railton

Application Questions

  1. Looking at Psalm 22 what descriptions do you find of the pain and agony Jesus endured while carrying your sins to the cross? Why do you think God chose this way to draw you close to Him?
  2. Why do you think Jesus quoted this Psalm on the cross?
  3. How can you focus on praising God even on the hard days?

Yellow Skittles and Suffering

Job 2

Saturday, July 2, 2022

Do you like skittles? It seems like everyone has a favorite color and a color they dislike. For me, I dislike the yellow ones. If someone were to give me a pack of skittles, I would simply pick out the yellow ones and eat the colors that I do like. Life, however, is not like this. We cannot pick and choose what we like and don’t like. Our lives are not as simple as pulling weeds out of a garden.

In this chapter of the book of Job we find him in the aftermath of losing everything. To make matters worse, Job is now being afflicted with painful boils. Destroying everything in Job’s possession did not persuade him to curse the name of God, so Satan has now turned to physical attacks.

            Even Job’s wife believes that Job should give up. His wife has also lost everything. The children whom she carried in her womb are dead. The life she knew- gone. She was in great turmoil as well. Her grief causes her to go out to her husband, who is sitting among the ashes, and plainly tell him to curse God for the calamity that has befallen them. And then she says that Job should die. For all that Job has endured certainly there is no reason to continue. No reason to attempt treating himself for boils, which is what he is attempting during this conversation.

            Job’s response is a great reminder. He says in verse 10, “Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?”

            Such an attitude can be extremely difficult to cultivate in times of such pain. Even Job’s friends, when they first see him in this chapter, weep at the sight of him. Even amongst his pain Job refuses to curse God. Job was unable to cherry pick what was happening in his life. It was out of his power to dispose of his yellow skittles in life.

            It is impossible for us too. We are not promised a perfect life in this fallen world. As a result of the fall of man and sin entering the world, we live in a corrupt world where bad things happen. We are given many good skittles, but that does not mean we will never have taste of a yellow one. But we have hope that one day if we put our trust in God that we will taste eternal life. Every tear and pain from this fallen world will be wiped away and what was imperfect will be made perfect.

            So, until that day comes, let us trust God and know that the taste in our mouth that the yellow skittle leaves is not forever. Remember Job’s words, “Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?”

-Hannah Deane

Questions for Reflection and Discussion

  1. What have been the yellow Skittles in your life? How did you respond to them? More like Job did? Or his wife? The next time you encounter a great trial or suffering how would you like to envision you will respond? What could you do now to prepare for this response?
  2. What good have you accepted from God? Thank Him for them!
  3. How does keeping an eternal perspective give you strength and hope through the difficulties?

A Most Challenging Day

Job 1

Friday, July 1, 2022

            Take a moment to think about your life? Is there a particularly bad day you can remember having? A day where everything that could possibly go wrong does? Maybe that day is today or maybe it was 10 years ago. Regardless of when, though, those kinds of days are challenging.

I have had quite a few days like this. From having a high fever during final exams and then having my laptop shut down in the middle of the final exam or learning that my older sister had passed, life can be very challenging. There are ups and there are downs. And usually it is on the way down when we begin to ask where we are going. Most often we don’t know, or at least not in the moment.

            The book of Job is quite interesting. Some Bible scholars have even argued about it being included in the biblical canon. However, the book of Job has nonetheless become a favorite book for many who are in the midst of hardship. It is a book that a struggling Christian in the fallen world can relate to. It also offers insight into the struggles we face in life.

            In this very first chapter we find Job living a prosperous life. He is beyond wealthy and has everything anyone at that time, and probably today, could ever want. Yet in one singular day it all comes crashing down. No matter how bad of a day I have had in my life, I don’t think any could quite top Job’s. One servant after another comes to tell him that they are the lone survivor of terrible tragedies. From his sheep being burned in the fields to a building falling in on and killing his children, the heartbreak and nausea he must have suffered in that moment is unthinkable.

The introspective we have into the calamities that have befallen Job is not a luxury that Job had. He, like us in our own hardships, did not know why this was happening. He didn’t know that Satan himself was attacking him and baiting him to curse the name of his God. He was not able to witness the conversation between God and Satan and say, “Oh, ok that’s why this is happening.” He was genuinely shocked and grieved by this unexpected course of events that rattled his life.

            In the midst of all this suffering, though, Job did not lose his faith. In fact, we are told that he worshipped God despite this. However, this does not mean he was not grieved and filled with a deep sorrow. For we are also told that he tore his robes, shaved his head, and fell to the ground. He was broken, but he worshipped God in his brokenness. Sometimes it is that moment of being broken that the light of the love of God warms our cold and tired hearts through the newly formed cracks. So, like Job, lets worship God in our brokenness. 

-Hannah Deane

Questions for Reflection and Discussion

  1. Describe Job. What impresses you the most about him?
  2. Why do you think God allowed Satan to test Job?
  3. What can it look like to worship God in our brokenness? Have you been there before – or are there now?

Peace and Hope in the Storm

Acts 27

May 15

In this chapter, Paul, awaiting a trial before Caesar, finds himself stuck on a ship in the middle of a storm with 275 others. To me, this sounds like a very frustrating situation to be in; being taken as prisoner despite being innocent, and then being completely ignored when you (an experienced traveler on the Mediterranean) warn against continuing on through the storm even in this current season, and consequently being trapped at sea in the midst of a perilous storm. 

But Paul did not lose faith, and he would not let his fellow passengers give up either. After being tossed about in the storm for days on end, Paul encourages everyone onboard:

“Men, you should have listened to me and not have set sail from Crete and incurred this injury and loss. Yet now I urge you to take heart, for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship.” Acts 27:21-22

He proceeds to tell them of the angel who promised not only his own safety, but also that of everyone with him on the ship.

“‘Do not be afraid, Paul; you must stand before Caesar. And behold, God has also granted you all those who sail with you.’ So take heart, men, for I have faith in God that it will be exactly as I have been told.” Acts 27:24-25

Weeks passed, and though everyone stayed alive, their situation had yet to improve. But still, Paul insisted that they would all be okay, urging them to eat while giving thanks to God. Eventually there was a shipwreck, in which the soldiers planned to kill the prisoners to avoid their escape, however the kind centurion Julius would not allow them to carry out this plan, and they all made it safely to shore. 

In Acts chapter 27, we watch as an epic tale unfolds (once again), and points us to the unrelenting faithfulness of our God. This amazing miracle was a small-scale example of what God is going to do for the entire world. As terrible as it gets, and as hopeless as our situation may feel, God’s promises do not change; He will always follow through. So we can eat our bread and find peace, even in the middle of the most terrifying of storms, resting in the knowledge of God’s coming Kingdom and never losing faith that His promises prevail. He will not fail you, He will not let you down, and He will not break His promises. So take heart, for I have faith in God that it will be exactly as I have been told. 

-Isabella Osborn

Discussion Questions:

  1. How can you be an influence to help others find hope in their storms?
  2. In what ways has the knowledge of God’s promises and faithfulness affected your life?
  3. When do you find it most difficult to take heart? How can you help remind yourself, even in these trials, of the hope we have in Christ Jesus? 

Standing Against Their Agenda

Acts 25

May 13

It’s been more than 2 years since the Jews made their accusations against Paul.  He’s under house arrest.  Time after time the Romans find him innocent under the law.  But they lack the political will to go against the Jews.  How frustrating this must have been.  The Jewish leaders just won’t give up.  They are determined to push their agenda.

Society today is in a similar state.  Factions try to wear us down with their agendas.   2 Timothy 3:2-4 tells us “ People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God.” 

In spite of his unfair treatment, Paul deliberately chooses to act in a Godly manner.  He patiently continued to spread the good news.  He wrote encouraging letters to fellow believers.  We need to follow his example.  He exhorts in  2 Corinthians 10:3 “though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does”.  Be firm, not belligerent.  Be loving, not proud   Be kind, not conceited. Teach truth in love. We are called to remain holy in spite of what is going on around us.  Above all, we need to deliberately choose to focus on things above.  In Philippians 4:8-9 Paul tells us to think about whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent or praiseworthy.  And then to put it into practice.

-Annette Osborn

Questions for Reflection and Discussion

  1. How would you describe Festus from this chapter? How would you describe the Jewish leaders? How would you describe Paul?
  2. Have you are ever been faced with injustice against you? How did you respond?
  3. What do you admire about Paul?

Joseph’s True Identity

Genesis 45

February 6

Next to the greatest story ever told, the story of Joseph is by far my favorite Bible story. There are so many valuable lessons one can learn from reading it. Some lessons that stand out to me are the sovereignty of God, the importance of trusting God even in the midst of tragedy and suffering, and the beauty and power of forgiveness. 

I have often asked myself if I would have had Joseph’s attitude in the midst of a seemingly unending chain of absolutely horrific events. In spite of the terrible hand that he continued to be dealt, we don’t see him being consumed by anger, self-pity or a quest for vengeance. There’s something very powerful about Joseph’s unwavering faith in God that inspires me. He seems to possess a quiet assurance that everything is ultimately going to be okay. 

In this 45th chapter of Genesis, we see Joseph revealing his true identity to his brothers. We know he had risen to a very prominent position of power as second in command of Egypt. The stage could have been set for him to get the “perfect revenge” against his brothers. We read in verse 5 right after Joseph reveals his identity to his brother: “And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you.” I find it especially poignant that not only does Joseph not want to exact revenge in this situation, he actually chooses to comfort his brothers in this moment rather than “giving them what for.” We know from earlier scriptures that Joseph was clearly hurt by their previous actions, but he wants to spare them the hurt of being angry with themselves or beating themselves up because of their actions. He points them to an understanding of God’s sovereignty and that they were players in God’s plan. 

How differently that 45th chapter of Genesis could have played out if Joseph had been bent on vengeance. Instead, we see the true beauty and power of forgiveness and a reminder that God is in control even in the midst of our darkest hours. 

If we choose to be consumed with anger or self-pity, we miss the important lessons God is trying to teach us. We read in Romans 8:28, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Perhaps the answer in those dark times is to focus on loving God even more deeply and purposely than ever before.

-Kristy Cisneros

Questions for Reflection and Discussion


1) When you encounter hardships and tragedies, does your attitude reflect one of unwavering faith in God? If not, how can you further nurture and strengthen that faith so that it is at the ready when life’s storms come your way?

2) What action can help us love God more deeply and purposely than ever before?

3) What other lessons can you learn from the story of Joseph?

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