Every morning, as I scroll through my social media feed, I see more and more articles, posts, videos, and comments in which individuals are trying to convince me of how I should be responding to our current situation, medical advice, economic impacts, and civil freedom. I am confronted with videos and posts about how I should be responding to a gut-wrenching shooting of a young black man in the town in which I grew up. I am confronted with contentions over how to define the roles of men and women in the church. All of these things have varying degrees of importance; however, there is one thing that we need to be convinced of more than all these things. It is something increasingly absent from all we are confronted with on social media. It is something that is often absent in my own heart, mind, and words. It respects the posture of our hearts before God in all times and in all places. It is stated in the answer to a question posed in 1563. It is relevant to how we ought to respond to all things and in all circumstances. It is that we need to be “patient in adversity, thankful in prosperity, and that in all things, which may hereafter befall us, we place our firm trust in our faithful God and Father.”
Currently, we are working through the book of Genesis at the church in which I serve as a pastor. We are in the middle of the narrative about Joseph. Joseph’s life was marked by injustice, mockery, suffering, accusation, famine, as well as by restoration, promotion, honor, power, and provision. He is a picture of the Lord Jesus Christ in his sufferings and subsequent glories. He is a type of Christ in that he experiences types of death, resurrection and exaltation. However, one thing that is remarkable about Joseph’s circumstances is that he never seems flustered. He never complains. He is calm in each and every circumstance in which he finds himself. He is compassionate to those who so grievously hurt him. He cares about the good of others around him. He is “patient in affliction, thankful in prosperity, placing His firm trust in his faithful God and Father”–and, that’s the key.
In a sermon about Joseph’s sufferings, one of our pastors cited the answer to Heidelberg Catechism Q. 28. The question is almost as instructive as the answer. Ursinus and Olevianus ask, “What advantage is it for us to know that God has created, and that by His providence does still uphold all things?” What we need more than anything at present is to know that God has created all things, and, that He upholds all the events of life in this world. When we know and truly believe these truths, we begin to realize “that we can be patient in adversity, thankful in prosperity, and, that in all things which hereafter may befall us, we place our firm trust in our faithful God and Father.”
However, an inventory check of our hearts and minds often reveals how inclined we are to be impatient in adversity, unthankful in prosperity, and disinclined to trust firmly in our faithful God and Father. Our social media feeds often reflect our impatience on account of the smallest inconveniences. We are quick to assert our opinions with as much emotional angst as we can muster. We are lightening fast to express our dissatisfactions at anything that cuts across our opinions.
Many of us will never suffering what Joseph was called by God to suffer. None of us will suffer like our Lord Jesus suffered. And yet, no one was so patient in affliction as Jesus Himself. In his final week on earth–leading to His crucifixion–Jesus was betray by Judas, arrested by priests, denied by Peter, abandoned by His disciples, accused by false witnesses, tried by rulers, rejected by the masses, abused by soldiers, derided by criminals, and forsaken by God. Yet, in all this, Jesus could ask His Father to forgive those who were crucifying Him, while they were in the very act of crucifying Him. He cared about providing for His mother, when He hung on the cross for the sins of all His people. He could drink the bitter cup of God’s wrath in the place of sinners like us for whom He willingly laid down His life. He could pity the dying thief who asked Him to remember Him in glory. He could be patient in affliction in order to accomplish what He had come into the world from the Father to accomplish on our behalf.
What do we most need at present? We need to be looking to Christ by faith alone for our redemption (Eph. 1:7). We need to know the one who–though He knew no sin–was made sin for us (2 Cor. 5:21). Then, we who are united to Christ by faith, need to be “patient in affliction, thankful in prosperity, and that in all things, which may hereafter befall us, place our firm trust in our faithful God and Father.” May God grant that this be true of us today and everyday He gives us hereafter.