It is funny to me how often a particular Bible story will come up in my daily life during various periods of my life. When I was first single again and struggling with my sinful past, the story of the woman at the well kept coming up. When I was going through a really difficult thing with my son, the story of Job kept coming up. Recently, the story that keeps coming up is the story of Joseph--not Joseph, Jesus' father, but Joseph with the coat of many colors. He has been mentioned in conversations with friends and pastors, sent to me in email devotions, talked about in sermons, and talked about on the radio. Usually when this happens, I believe that I am to really dig in and figure out what the message is that I should apply to my life...so here goes.
You can find the story of Joseph in Genesis 37-50. Basically he was a kid who had it all and then was sold into slavery. He trusted God and ended up with a pretty cushy job in a leader's house. But, then the leader's wife wanted to basically have an affair with him and when he refused--she lied and had him thrown in jail for false charges. He remained faithful there and eventually went on to save Egypt and then reunited to his family. He saved many people. That never would have happened if his long chain of events had been different.
I started searching on Bible.com and found these main points about Joseph's life...
1. God “broke” Joseph by taking him out of comfortable circumstances and stretching him. God often has to “break” us before He can use us.
I believe God does this with me. I do not like the "breaking" process at all...it can often be such a painful time for me. I get really frustrated with myself. I feel like I should be so much further in my journey than I actually am. I am just coming out of one of these times. I have been attending the same church for about 8-9 years. I have served in so many ways there and called it my home. I considered the people there family and for the last 3 years I was on staff there. A few months ago, I was informed that I was being "released" not because of anything I had done wrong, but because of some changes they wanted to make overall to the ministry. Not all of my thoughts or probably even actions have been pretty. In my head, I understand the changes and I am sure they will end up ok, but it hurt and not just a little bit. To be honest, I was completely devastated. I had moments where I was angry and others where I just sobbed my eyes out. I heard of rumors going around town that I was being fired because I was not doing my job and that really hurt a lot and was not true. I take a lot of pride in my work and that really upset me. I was frustrated with myself for feeling all of these emotions. I definitely felt broken down...and found that I needed to just fully trust God to sort it all out. In my head, I knew he was still in control and had a plan, but my heart was broken.
2. Joseph lived a life of integrity and was faithful to God in the midst of prosperity and adversity. He is a great example for us to follow.
I can honestly say that I have really tried to have integrity and be faithful during this transition. Tried is the key word. It was not easy...and again, I got really frustrated with myself. I really think I have made such progress in my faith and then when trials come, I disappoint myself. I guess maybe often what we know we should do and what we are feeling do not match up. During those times we need to be especially careful about the actions we choose. No matter what, our actions are totally within our control even when our emotions are not. I personally think that is good news.
3. There is no mistake in where God has you. Allow Him to use you where you are.
Oh this is such good news and at the same time, it is frustrating! I sometimes think, "God, what are you doing?!?!?!?" His plans so often make absolutely no sense to me and seem to be exactly the opposite of what I would choose. But, somehow--eventually most of the time they do make sense.
4. God is in control even when it seems that your world is spinning madly out of control.
Sometimes life does seem completely out of control! It is so easy to be consumed by what life here on Earth holds, but this is not home....this is not the final destination. We must remember that we need to look at eternity not just this time on Earth. There are things that here seem so unfair and terrible, but I have to remember that this life is temporary and short. I do not even remotely understand much of what happens here, but I try to remember that God can see the entire picture. I trust him to sort it all out and make sense for me one day.
In my recent situation, I did not have to suffer or wait long. God revealed a new path to me almost immediately upon me learning about the church situation. I can tell you that I feel totally confident that God has moved me where he needs to use me and that it is going to end up ok for all of the parties involved. I am thankful that it has worked this way. Several people I care about have not been so lucky. I have friends who have lost loved ones, jobs, spouses, children, etc. It is hard to know what to say to them because I am sure they struggle and ask God, "WHAT ARE YOU DOING!!" I don't know how to tell them that this is part of God's plan because it is terrible what they are going through. It makes my trials seem trivial. I don't have the answers for these situations and I will admit that these questions are difficult for me. I have to trust that someday I will know the answers and someday they will too...