Heard a very thought-provoking sermon on the radio today. A series on the life of Joseph from well known Pastor & Author; Alistair Begg of “Truth for Life”.
He spoke about the presence of God in our lives when we’re trapped in circumstances beyond our control. He described the presence and power of God to provide and protect us in the middle of difficult and discouraging moments, something I’m sure we can all appreciate. Joseph was trapped in a foreign land after being betrayed and abandoned by his own brothers, alone and isolated, a slave.
He had every right to give into the emotions of self-pity, resentment, bitterness. He had every right to hold a grudge, to nurse his anger and disappointment with his fellow-man and shake his fists at God in despair and righteous indignation. But he didn’t.
Instead Joseph chose to make the ‘best’ of his situation. To look for the good in the middle of his impossible circumstances and God’s presence remained. Joseph must have sensed there was some purpose to his injustices, some method to the madness of his incarceration and false imprisonments. Joseph’s faith looked for a hidden agenda by God, a strategy to direct his steps through the ridiculously bad luck of his life; of being sold as a slave, falsely accused of rape, and then discarded in prison by the one guy he helped to survive Pharaohs wrath.
It seemed that Joseph just couldn’t get a break.
His disappointments could have derailed his faith. Stopped him from trusting or talking with God. His pain and suffering could have easily burned away the belief and anticipation of looking for God to keep his promises, of daring to trust that someday and somehow God would show up and fulfill his adolescent dreams and visions.
What about us?
Do we believe God is working in our ridiculously bad circumstances? Are we surrendering to the wave of despair that comes over us, wallowing in the feelings of self-pity, resentment, and bitterness? I do it. Lots of times I’ve found myself muttering as I drive, wondering where God is in my latest crisis. Arguing with Him that He’s not fair!
I suffer badly. I hate stress and disappointments. I want my life to go the best possible way, to be fulfilling and without prolonged struggle. I want what I do to be successful. I want to work hard and see results, to find meaning and value in what I labor over. But far too often it’s nothing like that.
So… I have a choice to make. Like Joseph my life has had some major disappointments and moments of despair. I’ve found myself in circumstances beyond my control and feeling the dangerous current of self-pity, resentment, and bitterness gnawing their way up my gut.
Will I surrender to the darkness or push it back with one more act of hope and desperate faith? Will I look to God and reaffirm my belief that although it makes NO SENSE to me, He must be involved. That in my disappointments… He is still God. He is still using my momentary suffering as a tool of infinite beauty for my character and growth. (Romans 8:28 / Psalm 34 )
Those are the moments to cling to our faith. We can choose how we will react to the pain of life. Lots of options here… from covering up our pain with pleasure to losing ourselves in work. But what if we chose to read and pray?
What would happen if we turned to God no matter how hard it is? Discovering the promises of God in the darkness and sorrow of a sleepless night has salvaged my faith many many – times. It can realign our heart and reshape our suffering into an intimate act of faith.
When we come to Him in our pain… we reaffirm the truth we so desperately need to remember about our savior. He loves us. He understands us. He gets our pain and suffering as no other can… we remember in our surrendered heart that our God is good. He is working in our circumstances, using the disappointments of life for a higher purpose. He has a plan, and we’re in it.
Let’s agree to follow in Joseph’s example.
Let’s look to see how God’s going to show up in our disappointed lives. Let’s drop the weight of our painful baggage. We don’t need to carry the self-pity, resentment, and bitterness we’re holding anymore.
Blessings, Pastor B.