Sometimes our endings are not what we expected but everything we had ever hoped for.
This past week I had the privilege to finish reading Genesis and the portion on Joseph. I was incredibly moved by the story and felt the need to really meditate on the verses and the implications for my life. As a mother, I often surrender my emotions to fear and worry. It is easy to fret over both the small fry stuff as well as the big things. For example, I worry over little things like dentist appointments and the fact my six year old has her first two cavities. Then there is the big stuff. When my mind GOES there to the dark places and quickly ponders what might happen if I got cancer, or my husband died early, or…
A brief summary on this passage in the bible, please don’t mind my quick delivery, I am no theologian, just a mom who loves to read/ listen to the bible- Joseph is Dad’s favorite… and his brothers don’t like it. He gets his beautiful gift of a coat from his Father and the brothers cannot stand it. They decide to get rid of him, so they pretend to kill him and play a cruel joke on their Dad and little brother by selling him off. Joseph then ends up a slave in a land far away, and experiences all kinds terrible things. He is wrongly accused of rape by Potiphar’s wife and thrown into jail even when innocent. That alone would cause me deep panic. Still, he perseveres where he is and in his circumstances and manages to be a right hand to the prison guards, earning him respect as he then becomes an interpreter of dreams to the royals and eventually Pharaoh. The story ends with him having all the upper hands- he’s basically in power over the lands food supply and appointed an overseer- when he’s confronted with his childhood wound. His brothers pay a visit. (I don’t know about you- but nothing unnerves me like a familial wound from my childhood). And Joseph weeps. His heart longs for reconciliation with his Father AND his brothers. What? That’s a weird twist. What happened to revenge or payback? Bitterness over time? I mean, they sold him off when he was just a kid!
I always knew the story, but this time around it hit me particularly hard. I had always sensed some sort of pity for Joseph- poor guy, he got a bad lot. His mean brothers selling him off. Poor Joseph getting stuck in jail. Poor Joseph spending most of his adult life misunderstood, alone, often put in dreadful circumstances… definitely not getting easy way out.
How often do we do this in our lives? We take side glances at our peers and think those completely common yet poisonous thoughts… “If only I had their money…”, “If I was that beautiful…” or “If I had a husband that romantic…”. We compare and think we got the raw deal. I’ll be vulnerable to say that I struggle here. I look at the outside representation of other people’s lives and think they have it easier. It could be based off one instagram pic of a remodeled home, or a Facebook post of a couple in Tahiti. Sometimes it doesn’t take much for me to envy and assume friends of mine have it easier than I do. Cringe.
But God was at work in Joseph’s story.
This time, when the story concluded, I was in AWE of Joseph’s strength in God. He knew who he was (loved), where his meaning derived (the Lord), and he was strong enough to hold back and do the will of God. He extended mercy not as a sign of weakness but of intense and courageous love. He was bold in his requests and bold in his forgiveness. In all his trials he was not beat down. He was learning to lean on the Lord and his courage and faith grew. I’m always weary to make bible characters heroes because the truth is all “are sinners and fall short of the glory of God.” He wasn’t the hero. God was. But God used him mightily and he accepted, and what a beautiful picture of the Lord blessing him in his obedience with reconciliation, life and abundance and God getting the glory in it all. This story grips my heart. Who doesn’t love a story of redemption, with all the loose ends tied up?
19 Joseph said to them, “Do not be afraid, for am I in the place of God? 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. 21 Now therefore, do not be afraid; I will provide for you and your little ones.” And he comforted them and spoke kindly to them.
What does this mean for us? This redemption story is so rich with mercy, forgiveness, and love that it’s difficult not to be moved.
It is a good reminder for me not to skip ahead. I want the ending so bad. The happy reconciliation, the comfort, and the reward. What about the space between?
That is where I’m being molded by my Heavenly Father. It’s the pressure cooker. And I so often hate it and want to be removed. Oh those days of suffering and mourning.
+The time I lost my 19 week baby due to an unknown infection.
+The friends I’ve lost and never understood why.
+They failures of never seeing the fruition of my hard work in a business.
+The feeling of not being sure if I’m doing anything meaningful with my life day to day.
+The terrible words spoken over me in my past.
+The divorce I didn’t expect in my early twenties.
Heartache will continue to make it’s visit in my heart and my only hope is that I’ll trust my redeemer in those dark moments that he’s up to something good in the big picture.
Reading this story has given me hope to endure my trials and to think differently on them. It doesn’t make hard times any easier and definitely doesn’t remove them.
I can only pray that my faith would move me to a place where I can truly say in the hardest of times, “You meant evil against me, but God meant it for my good.”