When Joseph was propositioned by Potiphar’s wife, he responded by saying,
“. . . How then could I do this great evil and sin against God?” (Genesis 39:9)
Joseph had the understanding that he had a responsibility to God to behave according to God’s standards of conduct. His first allegiance was to God. He made the right choice in a difficult decision even though the short term cost was huge.
Fast forward about 1,900 years and there is a guy formerly known as Saul who found himself in many difficult situations. What is remarkable about this is that the Apostle Paul referred to himself as an Apostle (one who is sent) and am ambassador (see 2 Cor. 5:20 and Eph. 6:20).
It is the role of the ambassador to represent a government or king while traveling in a foreign country. Sometimes the ambassador has to represent his king in an environment that is difficult or hostile.
Like Paul, those of us who claim allegiance to Jesus have been given the responsibility to represent Christ in every situation in which we find ourselves. Jesus warned us that we would find tribulation in the world (John 16:33), so we should expect that we will sometimes find ourselves in difficult situations.
My guess is that every one of us has at least one difficult situation to deal with. It may be a family member, coworker, neighbor, church member or even a government. Aside from people problems, unemployment, underemployment, sickness or unfulfilled desires can cause frustration and difficulty.
When faced with difficulty (I admit that I have had relatively few real difficulties) I have a tendency to whine to God about the situation. My default position is one of self-pity and defeat.
Yet, if God is who Jesus represented him to be, then that God desires my well-being and the difficult situation is not an accident. Like Joseph, I may not see the reason for the difficulty while it is happening. I may not even see the reason for the difficulty while I remain in this life. But I can remain confident of two things: Jesus is with me in the difficulty (Matt. 28:20) and the difficulty is not random or meaningless (Romans 8:28).
Let’s return to the idea of being an ambassador. Perhaps part of the reason that God allows difficult situations in our life is so that we can be used to show His love in that situation. Rather than joining in the complaints against the terrible boss, I could work to make the situation better for all, including the boss. Rather than feeling aversion to interacting with a difficult person, I can live as a window that allows the light of God’s grace to shine through. Rather than whine to God about the difficulty, I can ask Him what I am to learn from the situation and ask for strength and wisdom to represent Him well.
I am writing as one who would like to do this well, but has failed so many times to do so. Yet, behind all my failures is a God who is big enough to redeem those failures.