Tuesday, September 24, 2013

I have often wondered...

There are many things I wonder about but I won't go into them here as I don't have time or space. There is one thing that I have wondered about (this came on because of today's devotion in Portals of Prayer) - did Joseph always keep a sunny disposition throughout all that he faced. The Joseph I am talking about is the son of Jacob, the one sold into slavery by his brothers. Was he always upbeat, knowing that the Lord would continue to bless his life and make all the rotten things come out all right? Or did he ever get discouraged?

When I read about Joseph, I find myself a little frustrated. Why? Because I see all the struggles he goes through and I get the impression that he sits around saying, "It is all right. God has a plan for my life and I know that things will work out all right." He is attacked by his brothers, striped of his robe of many colors, thrown into a well and Joseph says, "It's all right. God has a plan for my life and it will work out all right." He listens to his brothers argue about whether or not to kill him and he says, "This is good. God will make everything work all right." He is pulled out of the well and sold to the Midianites who take him off to Egypt and sell him to Potiphar, and Joseph says, "This is from the hand of God and all things are going to work out. I will be all right because God is with me." Did he feel that way after winding up in prison because of Potiphar's wife falsely accusing him of attempted rape? Did he feel that way after the interpreting the dreams of the baker and the cup bearer of Pharaoh and then having them forget him for 2 years? Think about it! Two years he was in prison and heard nothing from the 2 men who promised they would talk to Pharaoh about him and his situation. Did he say the whole time, "This is good. God has a plan. This is part of the plan and it will be all right"? These are things I have wondered.

What is the answer I have come up with? I would have to say that Joseph was probably the ultimate "Pollyanna." He seemed to always see the bright side of every situation - with his brothers, with Potiphar and his wife, with his time in prison and with his role in Egypt. Did he have moments of doubt? Probably. There were probably times when he laid in his cell wondering what God's plan might truly be, but through it all, he never lost faith that God was in control. There might have been times he felt lost and afraid but through those times he still trusted in the Lord to do what was best. There may have been days when he wondered if he would ever see his family again, even when he was 2nd in command in all the land of Egypt, but he knew that whatever God's plan was would be best.

I guess what I am saying is that Joseph was a young man (who grew into manhood) that trusted in the Lord with his whole heart. All he did was a reflection of that faith. He would see the situation of life through the eyes of faith. He would call out to God in times of trouble and know that the Lord would deliver him.

What do I learn from Joseph? I learn that God has a plan for my life (and your life) and that we are called to trust int he Lord. I learn that bad things will happen in our lives, things that are unexplainable and terrible, things that will threaten to crush us, things that are absolutely not what we plan or want in our lives, but through it all, God is still there. He will guide us through those times. He will be the Rock we can rely upon and trust in. We will be challenged in our lives. We will be tempted to turn from our Lord. We will be lead by the situations of life to curse God and turn our backs upon Him. We will feel justified by our indignation and our frustration to curse God and go about our lives as though He doesn't matter or as though we are furious with Him and refuse to be comforted by anyone. We will feel as though what has happened to us is the absolutely worst thing in the world and there is no way that God could be a part of what is taking place. We will feel all those things and more.

At those moments and times in our lives, I would encourage us to return to Joseph. You might say, "Yes, but he knew that God would work it out for him. Look at how it turned out!" Do you think that when he sat at the bottom of the well, wondering what was going to happen to him, that he honestly thought, "This is going to lead to my becoming the 2nd most important person in the land of Egypt." I doubt it. Do you think he sat in prison for 2 years and thought, "When Pharaoh has his dream, I will get out of here." I doubt it. But one thing he did think, "God is with me. I will trust in God with all my heart and life." When we are tempted by the situation of our lives to think God has no plan or that God has deserted us, look at Joseph's faith and realize that isn't the case. No matter how bleak, how sad, how overwhelming, there is one promise that God has made us that overrides everything (and it isn't that we won't have to suffer or be sad or frustrated or hurt or sick or whatever else you and I want in life). That promise is that He will never leave us. He will never forsake us. Jesus says to you, "I am with you always, to the end of the age." (Matthew 28:19) And He means it. He showed that in Joseph's life. He has shown that in countless other lives through out the years. What makes you and me think that our lives are any different?

God is with us - in the well, in the prison, in the hospital, at the funeral home, in the house, at school, in the car driving to work, in the terror that comes at night, in the fear that our spouse will leave us, in the time when we have to say good bye to someone dear to us, in the moment when time seems to stand still and not a sound is made as we process the terrible news given by a voice on the other end of the phone or the family member/friend gives face to face. Joseph turns to God in all situations. So can we. He is our God. Other might mean things for evil but God will work it out for our good - in time, sometimes a short time, sometimes a long time.

I guess I don't really wonder about Joseph, other than in my mind. I already know the answer. Yes, he trusted in God in all those situations, even when he might have those moments when he cried out, "Why!? Where are You God?!" Even then, he never lost sight that God was still with him. May you never lose that sight either.

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