My husband Gene wanted a new desk, but he had to wait until Christmas when I gave him one as a gift. Unfortunately, the desk came unassembled, and Gene had to spend many painful hours reading instructions, inserting screws, and gluing parts before he could enjoy the benefits of his gift.
Thousands of years ago, Jacob’s son Joseph received a gift far more wonderful than a desk. He received a promise from God that one day his eleven brothers and even his parents would bow down before him. Little did he guess how long he would have to wait until that promise would be fulfilled, nor did he imagine how much pain he would have to go through before he could realize the benefits. He endured years of humiliation as a slave and then more years of injustice in prison before he at last rose to be the second most powerful man in all of Egypt.
Sometimes the route to fulfillment of our hopes and dreams requires that we first pass through difficult and painful experiences. The apostle Peter understood this when he encouraged the early churches that faced persecution. He wrote, “These trials are only to test your faith, to show that it is strong and pure. . . . If your faith remains strong after being tried by fiery trials, it will bring you much praise, and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.”
If your hopes have not yet been fulfilled, is your faith strong enough to endure painful times before God eventually answers your prayers?