ControlAltDispute's Blog

Right in the Middle

Posted on: October 5, 2009

If you are reading a blog from a conflict resolution site (and, you are), you are probably expecting to read about resolving conflicts.  Fair enough — but the resolution of the conflict is only the last of three parts of a conflict and there is a whole lot of “in the middle of conflict” before that occurs.  So a very important question is:  What should you be doing while you are in the middle of conflict or trials?

My pastor (Bob Coy) answered that beautifully this past Sunday morning when he taught us how to be “right in the middle when you are right in the middle.”  (I’ll try to remember to post a link here to the sermon when it’s posted on the Calvary Fort Lauderdale site.  You’ll be blessed need to hear it for yourself.)  Here is my personal take-away (the good parts are Bob’s):

Thesis: When you are “right in the middle” of your trial, be sure you are “right” in the middle of your trial.  In other words, don’t be “wrong” when you are right in the middle of your trial.

Genesis 40:1 and verses following tell us of the time when Joseph was in the middle of his own trial.  He had been unfairly sold into slavery, and then unfairly imprisoned when his master’s lying wife unfairly accused him of something he didn’t do.  He was, at this time, in the middle of his unjust imprisonment.

Note:  The middle is the toughest part of a conflict or trial.  In the beginning (e.g., you just got diagnosed with something rotten) you don’t fully understand what is about to happen and you are holding out hope of somehow missing the trial altogether.  Your friends and family are there to support you and you’re feeling cared for and loved.  The end of the trial is not so bad either:  In fact, it can be great because even though there is still pain, you can see the light at the end of the tunnel and you know you’ll be out soon.  The middle of the trial, however, is not like either of those.  The friends and family are not there as much (or at all), God seems to be preoccupied with something else on the other side of the world, and Satan seems to be there to accuse and condemn.  The middle is also the longest chapter of the three.

Pastor Bob explains that from looking at this section of Scripture and how Joseph conducted himself, we can see three ways to know if we are being “right” in the middle of our own conflicts and trials.

First, are you sympathetic towards others?

Second, are you optimistic about the outcome?

Third, are you being kind to the unkind people?

Notice in Genesis 40:6-8 how Joseph, though unjustly imprisoned, still shows sympathy toward the cupbearer and the baker:  (paraphrased) “Why are you guys so sad today?  Oh, you had some confusing dreams and don’t know what to do?  Please, tell your dreams to me because God has given me some gifts in this area!”  If you know Joseph’s history, you might think that he might rather avoid anything having to do with dreams!

In verses 8-14 we see how Joseph remains optimistic about his future even while in the middle of a lengthy prison sentence.  Now we must remember that we’ve read ahead so we know that Joseph gets out . . . but that’s not how it would look to Joseph at that time.  At that stage in the story, there is nothing that indicates Joseph will be released at any time in the future.  Nonetheless, Joseph goes ahead and helps these inmates out by interpreting their dreams.  God reveals to Joseph through the dreams that one of the inmates, the cupbearer, is going to be released in three days.  Joseph, knowing this inmate will be in Pharaoh’s presence within the next 72 hours, asks his fellow prisoner to remember him to Pharaoh and get him out of prison.

In verses 16-19 it is revealed to Joseph that the baker is a bad man.   (It would appear that the baker and cupbearer might both have been imprisoned at the same time for some undisclosed wrongful act because Pharaoh was unable to determine at the time which of them was the guilty party.  Seeing as these two were the “food and beverage” police for Pharaoh, perhaps Pharaoh was poisoned?)  Nevertheless, Joseph treats the baker kindly and tells him what his dream meant.  (At first, I thought that didn’t actually sound that kind, but let me keep speculating a bit:  This could have been an extreme kindness, because it gave the baker an opportunity he didn’t have before.  He now had the opportunity to confess and seek forgiveness before it was too late.  The Bible recounts for us many times where God told certain people that He was about to punish them and they repented and He relented.  Perhaps this is an illustration of God’s mercy through Joseph?)

There are more points from his sermon to consider (see below), but let me close with a thought from someone who has been through his own trials and who works every day with people going through trials:  If you are a Christian going through a trial right now, know that it will not last forever and you will get through this.  I don’t know when – it may be tomorrow, and it may be a while yet.  Everything is working together for your ultimate good if you are called according to God’s purpose.  So when (not if) you get out of this, don’t you want to look back and see that you were sympathetic to others during your own difficulties, that you never lost faith that God would see you through it, and that you were kind even to those who were unkind toward you?  Don’t you want to have been “right” in the middle of it?

I do.

— M. Glenn Curran, III, Esquire

P.S.  This blog was already too long for a blog, but if you’re interested, here are some more points from the Bob Coy’s sermon for your further consideration and study (still, you ought to listen to it for yourself):

Look at 2 Cor. 8:1-5 at how the Macedonians who, though they were “in a great ordeal of affliction” and “deep poverty,” still gave to a sister church with “liberality.”

Remember that sometimes in God’s economy, He will use those to whom you have ministered, to later minister to you!  (If you don’t know the story of how Joseph went from inmate to Prime Minister of Egypt, read what happens with the cupbearer in Gen. 41:9-41.)

When you are in a trial and someone hurts you, just remember that hurt people hurt people.  Stop the cycle. Return kindness instead.  Being hurt is not a license to hurt back.

Hurt can turn to anger, and anger can turn to bitterness.  (Bitterness is a root that goes deep into the dirt and keeps you from moving on.)  Heb 12:14-15:  “Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord.  See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled.”

Check out how Jesus reacts in his own trials:  For one instance, see John 18:19-23.  Read as well 1 Peter 4:12-16 to see that we should “glorify God” in our suffering.


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