Through thick and thin with God
The story has a happy ending: “Never forget that no matter what happens, now is not the end of the story,” says the Chief Apostle. Blessing can, however, be experienced already before that as the story of Joseph shows us.
Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider surprised the members in Tafelsig in Cape Town, South Africa, on Wednesday, 24 May 2023. He would be there on the following Sunday to conduct the Pentecost service, but not the members of the congregation. They made room for the large congregation expected for the Pentecost festivities and the many musicians. As a thank-you for their selfless hospitality, Tafelsig thus had its own divine service with the Chief Apostle.
The basis for this was Genesis 50: 20: “But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.” The Bible text is taken from the story of Joseph. “I know you know the story by heart,” the Chief Apostle said. “But what does this mean for us today,” he asked and went on to supply four answers.
Don’t ask why, but to what end
“The first thing we can learn from him: no matter what happened in his life, Joseph remained faithful to God. And no matter the situation, he did good,” even if things did not go well for him, like in the beginning when he was sold as a slave. And even in the end, when he was rich and powerful, he remained faithful.
“When I look into the church and the circle of the children of God, what strikes me are the many different fates.” Some are very successful, they are well off and healthy, and it has been that way the whole time. They have never had to deal with a huge problem. And others suffer from the very beginning to the very end, the Chief Apostle said. “And why? There is no answer from the Holy Spirit. And I tell you, sometimes that makes me suffer.”
Then he said, “Don’t waste your time asking why. God just wants us to trust Him. The only question that makes sense in such a situation is, what can I do for God today? What can I do for my neighbour? And believe me, the Holy Spirit will always give you an answer.”
What blessing really means
“This is also a story about blessing,” the Chief Apostle explained. “For people, blessing is wealth, success, health, whatever.” But that is not blessing, he said. “Joseph was faithful. He did good. And what was the result? He was sold as a slave and he was thrown into prison.”
“Remember the story. As a slave, then in prison, and as number two in the country, God was with him. That was blessing. True blessing is when you can experience: God is with me, when you have peace in your heart, when you have this certainty in your heart: God loves me.”
When things turn into a blessing
“God changed evil into good,” the Chief Apostle made clear, using Joseph as an example. “As a slave, he learned to run and manage a household. As a prisoner, he was able to learn how to manage an organisation. So the whole thing was just a preparation, a kind of management school so that he could become number two in the kingdom and rule the whole country and be a blessing for the whole country.”
“True blessing is everything that strengthens your relationship with God. So if you are wealthy and have a lot of money it can be a blessing if it strengthens your relationship with God. If you realise that this is a gift from God and it increases and strengthens your gratitude towards God, and if it inspires you to use your health, your money, your strength, your energy to serve God, then your wealth is a blessing.”
“And on the other hand, difficulties can also become a blessing if they help you to come closer to God. So you see, God can turn evil into good. And Paul said that actually everything can contribute to the good of those who love God.”
This is not the end
“Imagine telling the story of Joseph to your children and stopping when he is in prison. How will they react?” the Chief Apostle asked with a smile. They would say: “No, that’s not the end of the story. In the end, he becomes king. There is a happy ending.”
“Brothers and sisters, this is exactly what I am getting at: whatever happens in your life—whether it is good or you are going through a very difficult time—never forget that this is not the end of the story. In the end, Jesus will come and turn evil into good and lead you into His kingdom. So never forget that no matter what happens, now is not the end of the story. The end of history is the victory of Jesus Christ.”