A. Introduction: We are talking about learning to respond to or answer life’s hardships and challenges with
praise and thanksgiving to God.
1. When we say praise and thank God, we don’t mean an emotional or musical response to Him. We mean
verbally acknowledging God by proclaiming who He is and what He has done, is doing, and will do.
a. To acknowledge means to take note of. In the midst of your pain and circumstance, you recognize
that God is with you and for you. One of the synonyms for the word acknowledge is to answer.
You answer your circumstances with praise and thanksgiving to God.
b. We do this in the midst of our emotional pain and difficult circumstances—even though we don’t
feel like—because it is always appropriate to praise the Lord for who He is and what He does.
1. When you praise God and express gratefulness to Him in the middle of the storm—before you
see help or feel better—it is an expression of faith or trust in Almighty God.
2. When you praise and thank God, you glorify Him and open the door to His help in your
circumstances. Psalm 50:23—Whoso offereth praise glorifieth me (KJV), and he prepares the
way so that I may show him the salvation of God (NIV).
2. Praise to God not only opens the door to His help, it strengthens you in the hard times. And, according
to God’s Word, there is a strength that can stop the enemy: Out of the mouths of babes and infants, you
have established strength because of your foes, to still the enemy and the avenger (Ps 8:2, ESV).
a. Matt 21:12-16—When Jesus was on earth, He revealed that the strength that stops the enemy is
praise to God. Not long before He was crucified, Jesus went into the Temple at Jerusalem.
1. A number of blind and lame people came to Him, and He healed them. When the religious
leaders saw and heard even children praising Jesus for the wonderful things He had done, they
were very upset. The children were proclaiming: Hosanna to the son of David.
2. Hosanna in Hebrew language meant “save, we pray”. By Jesus’ day it had become an
expression of praise to God rather than a prayer. Son of David was Messianic title.
b. Jesus answered the religious leaders by quoting Ps 8:2. He changed one word. Jesus identified the
strength that stops the enemy as praise to God (v16). We can trust His commentary on this verse.
3. We’ve said in previous lessons that, to respond to life’s frustrations and hardships, you need an
eternal perspective. An eternal perspective recognizes that there is more to life than just this life.
a. We are only passing through this world in its present form, and the greater and better part of our life
is ahead, after this life—first in the present Heaven and then on this earth after it has been cleansed,
renewed, and restored to what the Bible calls the new heavens and new earth. Rev 21-22
1. Everything we deal with in life is temporary and subject to change by the power of God, either
in this life or the life to come. This perspective lightens the load of life in this difficult world.
2. Paul the apostle wrote: For our present troubles are quite small and won’t last very long. Yet
they produce for us an immeasurable great glory that will last forever. So we don’t look at the
troubles we can see right now; rather we look forward to what we have not yet seen. For the
troubles we see will soon be over, but the joys to come will last forever (II Cor 4:17-18, NLT).
b. As part of this perspective we need to understand that although God does help His people in this life,
the help may not look like what we want or think we need.
1. God often puts off temporary help (ending your trouble now) for long term eternal results that
further His eternal purpose. His eternal purpose is to have a family of sons and daughters with
whom He can live forever—sons and daughters who are like Jesus in character. Rom 8:29
2. Jesus, in His humanity, is the pattern for God’s family. God is able to use the hardships of life
in this broken, sin cursed earth and cause them to serve this ultimate purpose, as He brings
genuine good out of genuine bad—some in this life and some in the life to come. Rom 8:28

4. We’ve referred to this statement in James 1:2—Count it all joy, my brothers, when you encounter trials
of various kinds (ESV). We’re told to count or consider trials as an occasion to respond with joy.
a. The Greek word that is translated joy means to be “cheer”ful as opposed to feel cheerful. In the
face of a trial, we are to cheer or encourage ourselves by praising God, by acknowledging who He is
and what He does.
b. Paul the apostle made a similar statement: Serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in
tribulation, be constant in prayer (Rom 12:11-12, ESV).
1. He used the same Greek word for rejoice (be “cheer”ful as opposed to feel cheerful), and added
that we are to rejoice in hope and be patient in times of trouble. Hope is confident expectation
of coming good. Patience is endurance.
2. If you know that there is a good end ahead (you have hope), it gives you strength to endure the
trial you are facing. Praising God helps you keep your focus on Him and the end result.
c. A little later in his letter Paul wrote: Things were written in the Scriptures long ago to teach us.
They give us hope and encouragement as we patiently wait for God’s promises (Rom 15:4, NLT).
1. The Scriptures Paul was referring to in this statement was the Old Testament, which is
primarily a history of the people group that Jesus was born into (the Jews).
2. These Scriptures record a number of accounts of how God worked in the lives of real people in
the midst of very difficult circumstances, as He brought genuine good out of genuine bad.
5. For the rest of the lesson we’re going to look at a spectacular example of how God works in life’s
hardships, and why we can praise and thank Him before we see results—the story of Joseph. Gen 39-50
B. Joseph was the great-grandson of Abraham, the head of the Jewish people. His older brothers were jealous
of the fact that he was their father’s favorite, and, when Joseph was seventeen, they sold him into slavery.
1. Joseph was taken to Egypt by slave traders where he experienced further trials, including false
accusations that led to imprisonment. These trials lasted for thirteen years.
a. Throughout his ordeal, Joseph stayed faithful to God and continued to acknowledge Him. Through
a series of events, Joseph eventually ended up second in command in Egypt, in charge of a food
gathering and distribution program. Because of this program, multitudes of lives were saved from
starvation during a time of severe famine in the region—including his own family.
b. Joseph was also eventually reunited with his father and his wicked brothers. The brothers repented
and Joseph forgave them. Despite his many hardships, this is how Joseph assessed his ordeal:
1. As far as I am concerned, God turned into good what you meant for evil. He brought me to
this high position I have today so I could save the lives of many people (Gen 50:20, NLT).
2. Joseph’s statement is sometimes referred to as the Rom 8:28 of the Old Testament—God causes
everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his
purpose for them (NLT).
2. Let’s begin with the why question. To respond to life’s hardships with praise to God, we first need to
correctly answer the why question. Why did all this evil happen to Joseph?
a. God did not afflict Joseph. God was not testing Joseph. How do we know? Jesus, who is God
and shows us God (John 14:9-10), never treated anyone the way Joseph’s brothers treated him.
Therefore, we know that Joseph’s ordeal was not the work of God.
1. God ultimately delivered Joseph from his ordeal (Acts 7:9-10). God does not afflict people
either directly or indirectly and then turn around and deliver them. This would be a house
divided against itself. Jesus said even the devil doesn’t work against himself (Matt 12:22-28).
2. God does not orchestrate the trials of life. Troubles come because that’s life in a sin cursed
earth (John 16:33; Matt 6:19; Rom 5:12; etc.). That’s the answer to the why question.
b. When we examine Joseph’s story, we find that a series of freewill acts carried out by fallen men

caused his troubles. His brothers (motivated by jealousy, with murder in their hearts) decided to
get rid of him and then lie to their father about what happened.
3. One day, Joseph’s father sent him out to look for his brothers, who were tending sheep some distance
from home. The brothers took advantage of Joseph’s arrival, decided to kill him, and tell their father
that wild animals killed him. They changed their mind and sold him to slave traders. Gen 37:18-33
a. Why didn’t the Lord intervene and stop the ordeal before it happened. Why didn’t God warn
Joseph not to go out to his brothers that day? It just doesn’t work that way. God does not stop the
free will choices of human beings—even choices He doesn’t approve of.
b. However, because Almighty God is all-knowing (omniscient) and all-powerful (omnipotent), He is
able to use human choice and cause it to serves His purposes. In Joseph’s case, God saw a way to
use the realities of life in a fallen world and cause them to further His plan for a family.
1. Had God stopped the brothers’ wicked plan, it would not have solved Joseph’s problem with
them. They still had hatred and murder in their hearts toward him, which made future trouble
likely. God put off short term results for long term gain.
2. Had the Lord intervened at that point, Joseph would not have ended up in Egypt in charge of a
food distribution program, and he and his family may not have survived the famine.
A. Remember, they are the people group through whom Jesus will come into this world. The
lineage of the coming Messiah had to be preserved.
B. Had they been wiped out at that point, God’s plan for a family of son and daughters through
Jesus would not have come to pass.
4. When Joseph arrived in Egypt as a captive slave, Potiphar bought Joseph. (Potiphar was an officer of
Pharoah, Egypt’s king.) Potiphar recognized that the Lord was with Joseph and caused all that he did to
prosper (or succeed), put Joseph in charge of his entire household. Gen 39:1-23
a. Potiphar’s wife falsely accused Joseph of rape when he turned down her sexual advances, and
Joseph was sent to prison. Note that Joseph turned the woman down because, despite his ordeal, he
stilled maintained a conscience toward God. Gen 39:9
b. God did not step in when Joseph was falsely accused because He could see where Potiphar’s wife’s
choices would lead. It was in prison that Joseph met the man who became his link to Pharaoh who
put him in charge of the food gathering and distribution program.
1. Like Potiphar, the jailer could see something different in Joseph because God was with him,
and the jailer put Joseph in charge of the prison. This gave him access to two men who worked
for Pharaoh, but had offended him, and he sent them to jail—one was a baker, the other a butler.
2. Both of these men had dreams that they did not understand. Joseph was able to correctly
interpret the dreams, and gave God the credit for the interpretations. The dreams indicated that
the baker would be executed, but the butler released. Gen 40:1-23
5. Although Joseph explained his circumstances to the butler and asked him to present his case to Pharaoh
once he was released, the butler forgot about Joseph for two years—until Pharaoh had dreams that no
one could interpret. Then, the butler remembered Joseph. Gen 41:1-36
a. Joseph correctly interpreted the dreams as predicting seven years of great abundance followed by
seven years of severe famine. Again, Joseph credited Almighty God for the interpretations.
b. Pharaoh recognized God’s help and presence in Joseph’s life: (Joseph) is a man who is obviously
filled with the spirit of God (Gen 41:38-39, NLT). So Pharaoh put Joseph in charge of storing up
food during the years of plenty and distributing it in the years of famine.
1. Why didn’t God remind the butler of Joseph before the dreams came? Because, had the butler
remembered Joseph sooner, Joseph may have been released from prison then, but there would
have been no reason to put him in charge of a food gathering and distribution program.
2. Joseph would have faded into obscurity in Egypt or returned to his homeland (Canaan), and

possibly died of starvation, along with other family members.
6. Almighty God works on the principle of maximum glory to Himself and maximum good to as many
people as possible as He uses the hardships of life and causes them to serve His ultimate purposes.
a. We’ve already noted that as a consequence of Joseph’s ordeal, Potiphar, the prison head, Pharaoh’s
butler and bake, and Pharaoh himself heard Joseph acknowledge God. They saw the effect of
Joseph’s dependence on God in his life. Joseph’s trials brought him into their lives, and all of these
men (Egyptian idol worshipers) received a powerful testimony of the Only, Almighty God.
b. Additionally, during the years of famine, thousands came to Egypt for food (including Joseph’s
family). Not only did Joseph’s plan spare people from starvation, multitudes of idol worshippers
from many countries heard about the One True God—the God that Joseph acknowledged, the
Sovereign Lord—as they were told why Egypt had plenty of food when no one else did. Gen 41:57
c. Note that Almighty God never abandoned Joseph during his ordeal (Acts 7:9). He preserved
Joseph and caused him to thrive in the midst of difficult circumstances, first in Potiphar’s house,
then in the prison, and finally in Pharaoh’s court. God got Joseph through until He got Joseph out.
1. Not only was Joseph able to declare to his brothers that God brought good out of what they
meant for harm, he himself had peace of mind in the midst of and despite his circumstances.
We see this in the names Joseph gave to his children. Gen 41:50
2. Joseph married in Egypt, and he and his wife had two sons. Joseph named his firstborn
Manasseh which means “God has made me forget all my troubles and the family of my father
(Gen 41:51, NLT)”. He named his second son Ephraim which means “God has made me
fruitful in this land of my suffering (Gen 41:52, NLT)”.
7. Note this point. Joseph’s family moved to Egypt during the famine. Although Joseph was restored to
his family, and recovered much that he lost, he never went back to his homeland (Canaan).
a. Shortly before Joseph died, he instructed his family to take his bones back to Canaan when they
eventually returned home. Joseph’s family remained in Egypt for four hundred years, but when
they finally left Egypt, they carried Joseph’s bones with them. Gen 50:24-26; Ex 13:18-19
1. Joseph had an eternal perspective. He knew that he would not cease to exist when he died, and
he knew there was coming a day when he will live on earth again. He will come with Jesus
when the Lord returns to this world to cleanse and renew it.
2. At that time Joseph will be reunited with his body (his bones) through resurrection of the dead.
The first place his feet will stand is in Canaan—full restoration of what he lost.
b. Joseph’s story gives us hope because it gives us a behind the scenes look. It shows us that even
when it doesn’t look like God is doing anything, He is at work. And it shows us the end of the story
—the good that resulted from his various trials, both the temporal and the eternal.
C. Conclusion: Praise to God is not another technique to get Him to do what you want. Part of your created
purpose is to glorify God continually. Praise is an act of submission and obedience to God. You and I are
to live a life of praise and thanksgiving and leave the results to Him.
1. Praise and thanksgiving comes out of your view of reality. You live with the awareness that nothing
can come against you that is bigger than God, and nothing takes Him by surprise. His timing is perfect,
and He will get you through until He gets you out. Therefore you can continually praise Him.
2. Joseph’s story assures us that God sees a way to cause circumstances to serve His purposes and bring
maximum glory to Himself and maximum good to as many people as possible—some in this life and
some in the life to come—genuine good out of genuine bad.
3. We find relief from the stress, frustration, and pain of life and loss when we are aware that there is more
to life than just time life. All will be made right in the life to come. This perspective helps lighten the
load and makes it easier to praise God in the midst of life’s trials. Much more next week!