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Embracing the Journey: How Trials and Sins Can Lead to Blessings 

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By Pastor Leo Benjamin MyFaithNews

In life, we often face trials and challenges that seem overwhelming. Yet, these moments of difficulty can serve a higher purpose, transforming our struggles into blessings. A powerful example of this is found in the story of Joseph and his family, as they mourned at the threshing floor of Atad near the Jordan River. 

The Story at Atad and the Threshing Floor 

After Jacob’s death in Egypt, his son Joseph led a large funeral procession back to Canaan to bury him, fulfilling Jacob’s last wishes. On their journey, they stopped at the threshing floor of Atad near the Jordan River to mourn deeply for seven days.  

“And Joseph went up to bury his father: and with him went up all the servants of Pharaoh, the elders of his house, and all the elders of the land of Egypt, And all the house of Joseph, and his brethren, and his father’s house: only their little ones, and their flocks, and their herds, they left in the land of Goshen. And there went up with him both chariots and horsemen: and it was a very great company. And they came to the threshingfloor of Atad, which is beyond Jordan, and there they mourned with a great and very sore lamentation: and he made a mourning for his father seven days. And when the inhabitants of the land, the Canaanites, saw the mourning in the floor of Atad, they said, This is a grievous mourning to the Egyptians: wherefore the name of it was called Abelmizraim, which is beyond Jordan.” Genesis 50:7-11 (KJV) 

Significance and Symbolism 

Trials as Refinement 

Think of a threshing floor, where grain is separated from chaff. This process of separation and refinement mirrors how our trials can purify us, stripping away what is unhelpful and strengthening our character. 

“Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ.” 1 Peter 1:6-7 (KJV) 

When Joseph and his family paused at Atad to mourn Jacob, they were engaging in a spiritual act of purification and preparation. This was not just a moment of sorrow, but a necessary step towards spiritual readiness for the blessings that lay ahead. 

The Meaning of Atad 

The Hebrew word “Atad” (אֲטָד) means “thorn” or “bramble.” Thorns in biblical literature often symbolize difficulties, obstacles, and trials. This name’s meaning adds a layer of significance to their stop at Atad, reflecting the trials and challenges they faced and had to overcome. 

 Sins Leading to Renewal 

Acknowledging our sins is the first step towards repentance and spiritual renewal. 

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9 (KJV) 

In mourning Jacob at Atad, Joseph’s family confronted their past, reflecting deeply on their journey and renewing their commitment to God’s promises. This period of introspection allowed them to prepare for the next phase of their journey, symbolizing how our own recognition of sin can lead to profound spiritual renewal. 

Transformation through Adversity 

Thorns, often seen as symbols of difficulty and sin, also represent the potential for transformation through adversity. Just as Jesus’ crown of thorns signifies both suffering and ultimate victory, our struggles can lead to spiritual growth and blessings. 

“And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope.” Romans 5:3-4 (KJV) 

The family’s stop at Atad acknowledges past difficulties, and through this process, they were transformed and prepared to receive God’s promises. 

Biblical Lessons of Transformation  

Joseph’s life itself is a testament to transformation. Sold into slavery and enduring many trials, he ultimately rose to a position of power and brought blessings to his family. His journey underscores how God can use our hardships for a greater purpose. 

“But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.” Genesis 50:20 (KJV) 

Similarly, the Israelites’ wilderness journey, filled with trials, prepared them for the Promised Land. 

“And thou shalt remember all the way which the Lord thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or no.” Deuteronomy 8:2 (KJV) 

A Message of Hope for Today 

For us today, the story of Joseph at the threshing floor of Atad offers a profound lesson: our trials and sins, when faced with faith and repentance, can be transformed into instruments of God’s blessing. These experiences deepen our reliance on God, refine our character, and prepare us for greater spiritual maturity and fulfillment of His promises. 

“My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.” James 1:2-4 (KJV)

If you are looking for a transformation, look no further. Let Jesus take you on this journey. Embrace these challenges as opportunities for growth, purification, and preparation. Trust that God is using these moments to transform your life and lead you to the blessings He has in store. 

Stay encouraged, knowing every difficulty can be a step towards your spiritual renewal and divine blessing. 

The author is Pastor of the Church of the Crucified One in Moretown, Vermont, and publisher of MyFaithNews