When it comes to the things of God I do not believe in luck or good fortune. I believe that the sovereign Lord is in control or absolutely everything concerning my life. It is often through reflecting over our past experiences that we begin to see and understand the divine workings and purposes of God that are at work in our lives. Present circumstances and situations may not make sense to us, we sometimes hear people talk about not knowing what lies ahead or not knowing what is just around the corner.
One of my favourite characters in scripture is Joseph the son of Jacob. I see him as an innocent young man who is perhaps a little naive and a little arrogant. He knows that he is his father’s blue eyed boy and his father’s open demonstration of his favouritism when he gave him the coat of many colours probably fed his young ego. It is never a good thing to favour one of our children over another. I know that in reality some children seem to be closer to one parent than the other, some parents seem to have a closer relationship with one child over the other or others.
There are various reasons for this but the end result is often with someone feeling hurt, bitter, jealous or not loved. Family dynamics can be complicated if one child is perceived to receive preferential treatment over the others. I can remember someone telling me that they felt unloved by their parents because their sibling had better grades and they got the treats and encouragement for achieving academically when they themselves struggled at school. Sporting fathers can sometimes favour the child that is sport orientated over the one who has no interest in sport whatsoever. Usually they are not aware that they prefer one child over another.
Showing favouritism and preferential treatment to one child over another is a recipe for disaster. Joseph’s brothers resented and hated him to the point where some of them were prepared to kill him. Feelings of rejection and neglect can stir powerful emotions in people which sometimes lead to what some call crimes of passion. Thankfully only a very few carry out murder but they will react negatively in some way towards their parents and siblings. I wonder how many children who have been labelled with having behavioural problems are simply feeling unloved or loved less because they are perceived as not being as bright as their brother or sister. As a result they look for ways to get their parents attention, often with negative behaviour. Perhaps it would be a good idea if there were classes to teach parents what it means to love unconditionally. Many children and young people as well as parents would perhaps be much happier.
For me the life story of Joseph displays perfectly how present circumstances cannot reflect what will happen in our future. When Joseph’s brothers dumped him into a pit I am sure Joseph was not looking forward to a bright future. When they sold him into slavery his prospects had not improved. When his employer’s wife falsely accused him of a sexual assault and he was sentenced to two years in jail he was not thinking this will look good on my CV. His circumstances were far from good but there was a good God controlling everything.
Joseph could not see what was just around the corner. He had asked one of the men who was with him in prison to remember him when he was released. It was not until two years later that the man remembered him and mentioned to the king that Joseph had rightly interpreted his dream. There were times in my life when I thought God had forgotten about me but he was working to his plan and his time schedule. There are times when people forget about us but God will remember us every single day of our lives.
I think I have said this before but it is worth saying again because it is so important to understand it. There will be many times when we cannot trace the hand of God working in our lives but during those times we can and must trust his heart. I would loved to have been able to interview Joseph towards the end of his life and ask him about his journey through life that brought him to the pit, then to be a slave in Potiphar’s house, then to prison for two years and finally to the Kings palace where he was second to the King. From there he rescued his entire family from starvation and was re-united with his family, including his brothers who had treated him so badly. That is some life story and God is still writing our life story. Who knows what is just around the corner. What may seem to be a disaster to you and me may be the Lord just taking us a step further down the road and in the direction that he has planned for our lives.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD. “As the heavens are higher than the earth so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts”. Isaiah 55:8-9.
Joseph could proclaim to his brothers, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives”. God’s intentions for our lives are only good always; the problem for us is that we often cannot comprehend God’s intensions for us when we are facing difficult circumstances and trying situations. This is where the verse in Romans 8:28 becomes so important to us. “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose”.
If God has called you and your circumstances are not what you would like them to be it does not mean that God does not care or that he has forgotten you. The likelihood is that you are still in God’s preparation room. If we look at the life of Jesus we will see that he began his earthly ministry around the age of thirty and he then ministered for three years before completing his mission on earth and returning to his heavenly father. We would not want a partly prepared surgeon to perform major surgery on us; neither does God send out partly prepared people to carry out his divine purposes. God does not keep his people in the waiting room because he is cruel; he keeps us there until we are ready.