Joseph’s life may have been interrupted in many ways, but God continued to bless him because of how he responded to those interruptions. In last weekend’s service, Pastor Wu Yuzhuang unpacked four things Joseph did that turned his situation around.
Interruptions are very rarely appreciated—yet they can be God’s way of setting His people up for miracles. That is the crux of the message that City Harvest Church’s pastor Wu Yuzhuang shared on the weekend of Nov 6 and 7.
He started the sermon with the story of Joseph in Genesis 37. Joseph had dreams of greatness and he innocently shared them with his brothers. However, he did not realise that his brothers were jealous of him because he was their father’s favourite child. While the chapter started well, it ended with Joseph’s brothers selling him as a slave to Egypt.
His story continues in Genesis 39. However, between Genesis 37 and Genesis 39 is Genesis 38—a chapter that seems unrelated to Joseph’s story, interrupting its flow.
THE NECESSITY OF LIFE’S INTERRUPTIONS
“Nobody likes interruptions,” the pastor continued. “Yet, it is a necessary part of life. If you look at the life of Jesus, He was interrupted on many occasions during His life and ministry.”
Jesus’ childhood was interrupted when King Herod sought to kill Him (Mt 2:13). In the course of His earthly ministry, Jesus also faced many interruptions. His preaching was once interrupted by demons and He had to perform a deliverance before continuing His sermon. The Scribes and Pharisees were constantly interrupting His ministry, throwing stones and even trying to capture Him.
Yet Jesus was never frustrated or annoyed by these interruptions. “Perhaps He knew that life’s interruption can be divine. In fact, interruptions are often used by God to prepare us, to grow us, to enlarge us, to push us into our purpose,” Pastor Zhuang explained.
“Interruptions are often the prerequisite for the miraculous in your life” The pastor added, noting that many miracles start off as interruptions. “Sometimes, God allow interruptions in order to bring us into the next chapter.”
In Genesis 37, Joseph’s life started out well but was later betrayed by those closest to him. Chapter 38, a seemingly unrelated episode interrupted Joseph’s story. Speaking to those experiencing interruptions in their lives, Pastor Zhuang encouraged them saying that God wants to bring them out of the pain of interruption, into His deliverance.
In Genesis 39, God did a miracle for Joseph—even though he was in prison, he was made overseer of the prisoners and had full liberty to do as he saw fit. Pastor Zhuang noted that while Joseph had been betrayed and sold as a slave, the Bible describes him as a successful man (Gen 39:1-2).
“Sometimes, we don’t see our situation the way God sees it—what looks like a misfortune to us could be a blessing,” the pastor preached. “When we go through a hard time, all we can see is how miserable we are. But our misfortune can sometimes be a blessing.”
He added, “Not everything you lose is a loss; a loss can be a gain.” He went on to describe how an interruption may be God’s way of intervening, to prevent His children from getting hurt. When prayers are not answered, it might be God’s way of protecting His children because what they are praying for may not ultimately be toward their good.
FOUR THINGS TO DO IN HARDSHIP
Pastor Zhuang went on to share about four things Joseph did in response to his life’s interruptions.
Firstly, Joseph stayed close to God.
“I believe Joseph stayed close to God in the midst of his suffering,” Pastor Zhuang shared. When he was a slave, he kept on worshiping and praying to God. Even though his outward circumstances had changed, his inward devotion had not.
Secondly, Joseph studied his environment. Genesis 39:4 records that Joseph became the overseer of Potiphar’s house. Pastor Zhuang explained that Potiphar was a high-ranking officer in Egypt and God must have put Joseph on the path to becoming a high-ranking officer himself one day. “I don’t believe things happen randomly,” the pastor said. “Everything happens for a reason.”
He pointed out that while others in Joseph’s situation would be complaining about their environment, Joseph chose to study his environment. “Instead of becoming angry and upset, let us become students of our environment,” Pastor Zhuang advised. “Since I’m already here, I might as well learn everything that I can about my environment and situation.”
Thirdly, Joseph served with excellence. Genesis 39:5 records that Potiphar’s house was blessed. Pastor Zhuang suggested that since Potiphar was not a believer of God, he was blessed because of Joseph’s service towards his house.
Despite being a slave in Potiphar’s house, Joseph did his job with such excellence that he was promoted. “Instead of trying to get out of your pit through rebellion, get out of your pit through promotion,” Pastor Zhuang encouraged. He urged the church to serve with excellence even in unfavourable circumstances.
Fourthly, Joseph did not go back to his past. He did not return to the land of Canaan for 39 years. Pastor Zhuang urged the church not to be too eager to go back to their past after God delivers them.
The only reason Joseph went back to Canaan, was to bury his father (Gen 50:5). “If you ever need to go back to your past, conduct a burial, not a party,” the pastor urged. “Your past will call you—but it has nothing new to say,” Pastor Zhuang preached appealing to the church to bury their past once and for all.
FOCUS ON GOD DURING INTERRUPTIONS
The pastor concluded his message with a testimony of George and Shilpa Kuruvilla. Married in 2009, George and Shilpa decided to start a family in 2012. But they soon realised that they could not conceive. They visited many doctors and specialists, but there were no issues to be found. They were very disappointed but trusted in the sovereignty of God.
In December 2014, George and Shilpa were finally pregnant and baby Shiloh was born in August 2015. Soon, they felt ready to have another child. In 2017, Shilpa was pregnant again. But five months into the pregnancy, she experienced sudden bleeding and was taken to the hospital. Their cell group, W322, and pastors went down to pray for them for the next four days. However, their baby was born prematurely and did not survive.
In 2019, the couple experienced another miscarriage. Although they felt like their faith was being beaten down over time, they continued to cry out to God. In February 2020, in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, the couple found out that they were pregnant with twins. In the next few months, the family prayed for protection over the unborn twins. In October 2020, Shilpa safely delivered the twin babies, Olivet and Yohan.
Pastor Zhuang noted that even though George and Shilpa experienced many interruptions in their lives, they were never bitter towards God. Not only did they continue to trust Him, but they both also continued serving in the church faithfully.
As he ended the service, Pastor Zhuang urged the church not to be fixated on the misery and pain, but to notice what God wishes to reveal in times of struggle.