It was a season that I’ve been in several times since getting married and having children. Perhaps you’ve had them too: a season that includes a great deal of change and a great deal of surprise.
We were in the process of buying our first home; a process that was supposed to last four weeks and ended up lasting seven (surprise!). We found out it would cost $1,800 to get out of our lease (surprise!) and finally got a second opinion back from the dentist on my husband’s dental treatment plan – $10,000 (surprise!).
Along with the financial surprises, God was also opening doors at work (surprise!), to write (surprise!), in ministry (surprise!), and adoption (surprise!).
This season was full of many surprises that pushed out the dreams and vision God had planted in my heart years ago.
But there have also been seasons where the surprises came in the form of stress, loss, hardship, strain, and enormous amounts of fear and anxiety.
I’ve always been fascinated by the old Bible story of Joseph. So much of one person’s life condensed down into a couple of chapters in Genesis. I’ve known the redemptive ending of that story since I was a child – he becomes the second highest-in-command in Egypt and saves a nation from the devastating effects of famine. Since becoming an adult, I’ve wondered about “the middle”; the parts of the story that were mind-blowingly hard. Rejection from his family was taken to a new level when they sold his life – his existence – into slavery. He did everything right, yet deception stole his life from him again and placed him in prison. His prison term dragged on as those who promised to help forgot about him.
Did Joseph ever say to God “I can’t do this anymore?” Did he ever wake up at 2am and cry and plead for relief? Was there just one second of doubt in the years and years of hardship?
Joseph had a dream about his future, but he didn’t know the how or when. I sit down to read the story and know the ending before I even begin. Joseph didn’t.
And the same is true for my life.
I want the blessings of Joseph. The dreams fulfilled. The accomplishments. But often I don’t want the hardships. I want to somehow detour around them, find a short-cut and move on to the ultimate prize.
God has a plan for every challenge. Joseph trusted God’s plan and toward the end when his father had died and his brothers were afraid for their safety, Joseph spoke one of the most powerful promises in Scripture: “Do not fear … you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, …” (Genesis 50:19-20 ESV).
We may be afraid, but God …
We may be angry, but God …
We may be sad, but God …
We may be tired, but God …
Dear friend, no matter what your life is like today, God’s plan is to use it for your good and the good of others. Don’t be afraid. Embrace the surprises and watch your story unfold.