Tragedies befall all of us. Some worse than others. We cry out in anguish. We allow confusion and anger to seep on the inside of us over the injustice of it all.
How does a mother justify in her heart when life tears from her very arms the child she so loves? How do any of us cope with the loss of a loved one? We look at all the unfairness in life. We see many people we loved or cared about taken in the prime of their lives ... just at a time when their lives should have been seeing the best years.
What about the unfairness in our daily lives? How many times have you stood back in awe at the path people’s lives seem to take? People who have seemingly lost their morals and treated others so unfairly seem to prosper despite what they have done or their unfair acts. It so often seems as if the worse you treat others, the easier your life goes. People seem to prosper today based on who they know in high places and not based on their hard work ethics. The man that does not pay his taxes is the man who has the most! The guy who cheats on his wife gets by with it while the man who struggles daily to honor his wife and support his family loses it all. Where is the justice in this?
I am going through some difficult times in my life right now, as I am sure many are. When I focus on what lies ahead, I could very easily become bitter and disillusioned. So many times I cry out and ask why? Most of those times, I do not hear God speak to me. I get total silence which causes me to doubt on so many different levels. Again I could become angry and bitter, stooping even further down into a pit of despair. Why has God allowed things to happen as they have? Did He cause my heartache or yours? Absolutely not! He did, however, allow them to happen. Why? Despite the fact that He did not cause these travesties to happen or the pain I am currently enduring, why does He not protect me and remove them?
I finally see it clearly. My understanding has been enlightened. No, it does not make where I am at an easier path, but it gives me hope. This is what we all need during those difficult times. I have to admit that what He shared with me tonight was not earth shattering in that I have never heard it before, but He needed me to be reminded of it again. It needed to be brought to the forefront of my mind because, as with many, I have chosen to ignore it. I have chosen to believe what I see before me and not rely on the unseen.
God spoke to me through the story of Joseph, and I believe He is speaking to you too. As a young lad, Joseph literally was ripped away from his life and thrown into the unknown. How frightened he must have been in the bottom of that pit. How he must have been crying. Joseph must have been so baffled as to how his brothers ... his own flesh and blood ... could do such a preposterous thing to him.
To top it off, Joseph’s brothers allowed him to be taken away to a foreign country and sold as a slave. The pain and heartache his father felt over this loss. The not knowing why ... the unfairness of it all ... the heart wrenching pain this dad and son must have felt. Joseph was betrayed in the worse way ... by his own family!!!
As I was reading this story tonight for the millionth time, one particular verse stood out from all the rest. It was as if I was seeing it for the first time though I know this not to be the case. It was just time for God to use this particular verse to give me added hope and to increase my faith. He was sharing understanding with me. This understanding would in no way remove my present suffering. It just gave me a hope we all so desperately need and long for in the midst of our suffering.
For those of you reading this who do not know the story of Joseph, let me enlighten you. He was a young Hebrew lad who had 11 brothers. All were older than him except for one. Joseph and his younger brother shared the same mother. Their mother was the woman their father, Israel, loved more than any of his other wives. During this time in Joseph’s life, his mother was deceased. To the father, these two younger boys were his lifeline. I am sure he cared about and loved all of his sons, but Joseph and his younger brother, Benjamin, were given to him in his old age and they were priceless in Israel’s eyes.
The older boys were jealous of Joseph and for good reason. Who wants to know that their parent loves another child more than you? The sibling rivalry had to be great. One day the brothers saw an opportunity to get rid of Joseph and they acted on it. Their jealousy of their brother was greater than their love of their father. They never thought or considered the heartache this would cause Israel. Isn’t this what jealously and bitterness do for us? We see only our pain, and we become very self-centered.
To make a long story short, God prospered Joseph despite his hardships. He was given favor no matter what he did or where he was. In the years to come, when thrown into prison, he was given favor. As a slave to an Egyptian, he was given favor. God blessed Him. What was meant for Joseph’s harm, God used for Joseph’s good and for His glory. All of this favor and prosperity did not alleviate any of Joseph’s original pain and suffering. I am sure for many years he struggled with the why’s of the situation. I could well imagine he cried out to God more than once. He was human. He lacked understanding. He was scared. He missed his home ... his dad! However, in time, as God does with us all, He reveals the answers and gives us understanding.
Joseph ended up being a lifesaver for his brothers and father. If it were not for what occurred in Joseph’s life, then his whole family would have suffered immensely and died.
The time came for Joseph and his family to be reunited. They were able to put aside what had occurred and to love one another again. Joseph could have spent his life eaten up with anger and bitterness ... who could have blamed him ... but instead he opted to forgive.
As Joseph was having a conversation with his brothers during the transition of restoration, in Genesis 45:5-7, Joseph said something so powerful. He stated to his brothers, “But now, do not therefore be grieved or angry with yourselves because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life. For these two years the famine has been in the land, and there are still five years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvesting. And God sent me before you to preserve a posterity for you in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance. So now it was not you who sent me here, but God; and He has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house, and a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt.”
Did you catch this ... God allowed Joseph to be thrown into this hardship! He had a plan. In order to save the lives of Joseph’s father and brothers in the future, Joseph had to endure what he did. He had to take this path in order to bring all of this together. God could have prevented this from happening. God is all-powerful and He simply could have halted everything!! He did not, however, because He was going to turn this horrible ordeal into something good. It is what He does for all of us if we simply trust Him. There is not a day ahead that God has not already seen. If tomorrow holds heartache of some sort for you ... if you should lose a love one ... lose your job ... get treated unfairly ... God already knows how He will get you through it, He will use it for your good, and He will use it for His glory!
Can you believe the way in which Joseph handled this? He is acknowledging that though he suffered immensely, and all because of his family’s ill treatment of him, it was not their evilness that placed him where he is but it was God’s divine direction for his life. WOW!!!! God did not cause this travesty to occur, but He allowed it for a greater purpose.
I realize you must be saying, “I just do not understand how God could allow the suffering in people’s lives that He does! Regardless of His plan for this, it is just not fair.” You would be right! It is not fair, but it is the fallen state we live in. How much worse to have all this suffering and nothing good come out of it? What if we simply suffered and never saw the hope. This would be an even greater travesty than the suffering.
God has a plan. Please always know this. I have to remind myself of this everyday. I have to tell myself on purpose that God is using anything I may be going through in preparation of something greater ahead. It is my choice to believe this.
Joseph shares in Genesis 50:20, “But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.”
No matter what you are going through today, never lose hope. Find the physical strength within to get up and tell yourself, “God has a plan.”, “God will bring me through this”, “God will use this sadness ... this loss ... this hardship ... this physical, emotional, and/or mental pain ... to enrich my life and/or the lives of those I love”. Trust Him and He will!