The Path To Contentment

The spirit of their father Jacob revived. And Israel said, “It is enough; Joseph my son is still alive. I will go and see him before I die.” Genesis 45:27b-28

It’s surprising how, with Christ, my heart can be content. Jacob was so elated with the news that Joseph was alive that he was willing lay all other hurts aside and focus on the joy of seeing his son again. The joy of being reunited with Joseph eclipsed the pain of all else that had taken place before.

Over the course of my life, I have celebrated God’s goodness and celebrating was always easy.  I have also grieved losses and grieving was never easy.  It was messy and involved learning to adapt to a life without the person for whom I was grieving.  I had to be willing to go with God into a future that was vastly different than what I had known.  Only the Holy Spirit could help me to embrace it and to learn to be content. 

Ron and I were so impressed recently by our neighbor.  She had to leave her home of forty-three years to enter an assisted living facility. She grieved over all the familiar things she would have to leave behind. There was a period of sadness.  With time, God helped her focus on the handpicked things she was able to take with her to her new home. They were the things she cherished the most.  God gave her the grace to settle in new surroundings and find contentment.

It is human nature to look at what we have lost rather than what we have left. We want what we once had so much that we overlook the treasures still in our hands. God will help us re-align and re-adjust. Grieving the losses gives us an opportunity to lift our eyes to what is eternal. We find comfort, and then we find joy, as we embrace the promises of God for the future. Only God’s perspective can lead us from the throes of self-pity and bitter tears.

When we think our hands are empty, God shows us that they are, indeed, still full.  They are full of blessings we couldn’t see before now. Sometimes, it takes a lifetime to understand that the child of God is never without riches ~ even in the worst of times.

Change is certain. Security is also certain with You as my Father. Show me what is in my hands. Amen

Maybe It’s Not Over

So they went up out of Egypt and came to the land of Canaan to their father Jacob. And they told him, “Joseph is still alive, and he is ruler over all the land of Egypt.” And his heart became numb, for he did not believe them. But when they told him all the words of Joseph, which he had said to them, and when he saw the wagons that Joseph had sent to carry him, the spirit of their father Jacob revived. Genesis 45:25-28

When Joseph disappeared from Jacob’s life, something broke inside this father’s heart. Hope died. His spirit withered. It would be this way for another 20+ years until he got the news that Joseph was not dead as he believed, but very much alive in Egypt. He had grieved his son’s death and disillusionment had been his companion. His heart had grown numb to good news. But finding out that Joseph was alive, Jacob’s heart revived.

Can God do a new thing in my later years? Yes. Even when something catastrophic happened in my teens and I learned to adapt by closing off my heart, God can introduce healing many decades later. 

A dreamer, in response to a series of disappointments, shoves his dreams underground. Can God resurrect them later in life? Yes. Though decades seem like an eternity and dreamers are tempted to believe that life is always going to disappoint, they discover that God can write a new plotline.

What is it you’re waiting for today?  For what have you stopped hoping? Perhaps you believe that it’s futile to trust God for anything different, that God’s promises are for those still enjoying the dreams of their youth. Oh, but not everything is as it appears. Jacob held what he thought was bloody coat of his son Joseph, but the evidence of his death was a sham. Joseph was very much alive.

This could be the day of your breakthrough. Tell your heart to stand at attention to see the miraculous hand of God write the next chapter of your life.

 I lived to see my own resurrection. All because of You. Amen

Enjoying The Light Of My Predecessors

And you, Joseph, are commanded to say, ‘Do this: take wagons from the land of Egypt for your little ones and for your wives, and bring your father, and come. Genesis 45:16

Would Pharaoh have honored Joseph’s brothers if he’d only known them as Hebrews who were visiting Egypt? Never. The blessing came because of his love for Joseph. Whom Joseph loved, Pharaoh loved.

My father, a principal in our public school system, was well loved and respected. Because of that, honor was given to our family. My father-in-law, an iconic evangelist, famous for his passion for reaching the lost, was also respected. By marrying into his family, I have been blessed by strangers just because I bear his last name. My husband, Ron, is well loved too. He is hard working, faithful, an honest leader, has never made an enemy, and because of this, respect and good will have followed us.

Do I need to have an honorable family on earth to be blessed by association? No. That would be unfair if that were the only criterion. We didn’t get to vote which family we were born into.  But we are now blessed because of our association to Jesus. God, His father, loves those whom the Son loves. Because Jesus reconciled us to His Father and made us brothers and sisters, God beckons us from the land of famine to the land of plenty. He provides everything we need for the journey home to Him. Our future and inheritance are guaranteed simply because of who Jesus is.  He has presented us to His Father, validated our adoption, and secured our inheritance.

Father, I enjoy the smile You have for me today because I love Your Son.  Thank you for including me in His line of favor.  Amen

Will His Good Will Expire?

You shall dwell in the land of Goshen, and you shall be near me, you and your children and your children’s children, and your flocks, your herds, and all that you have. There I will provide for you. Genesis 45:10-11

What a promise. Family members that acted out against Joseph were forgiven to such an extent that promises of provision and protection were made to them for the rest of their lives. How easy it would have been for the brothers to distrust Joseph’s promises. It would be human for Joseph to change his mind as he remembered their sins against him.

I was once God’s enemy. My acts against him were punishable by death. Yet, because of what Jesus did, God made me right with Him and called me His friend. Like Joseph, He has made sweeping promises of love, care, and protection toward me for the rest of my life and throughout eternity.  But there are moments I’m skeptical because I remember my sins, feel the shame of them, and then shyness and fear overtake me. Confidence with God is shaken when I listen to my feelings and I’m skittish to own the promises He’s made.

Salvation gave me a priceless gift, the gift of a clean slate. My history of enmity was buried at the cross and a covenantal love relationship was born. It is ironclad, not because of me, but because of Him. If I’m plagued by the memories of my sin, the rehearsal of my past is not a holy thing. It is a satanic attack.

May my short memory take me back to the cross, not my sin. Amen

Who Benefits From My Redemption?

God has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house and ruler over all the land of Egypt. Genesis 45:8

In my opinion, this is an overlooked part of Joseph’s story. It’s easy to get caught up with how Joseph felt on the other side of imprisonment. We imagine him being reunited with his brothers, and mostly, with his father. We might never think about how Pharaoh benefitted from crossing paths with Joseph, that Joseph’s influence over Pharaoh was fatherly.

To be a father is to be able to advise, to take care of, or administrate. The day Joseph was dragged into Pharaoh’s court, Pharaoh gained a confidant; someone without an agenda, a priceless gift for a ruler. Never knowing who to trust and never allowing one too close, kings and pharaohs lived lonely lives. Instead ~

  • Pharaoh became acquainted with someone who walked with God.
  • He met a man who was willing to tell the truth and put himself at risk when he interpreted Pharaoh’s dream.
  • He met a man who came out of a prison environment with a gentle spirit.
  • He met a man who had no trace of anger or revenge-seeking.
  • He met a man who possessed wisdom so unique that his ideas could only be attributed to his God.
  • He met a man who was not power hungry.

All of Egypt was saved from famine because God brought Joseph to Egypt. His redemption from imprisonment to power saved more than just the Jewish people. So widespread was his influence that even Egypt was able to preserve its people through the drought.

My redemption never stays in close circles. People close to me watch and God’s power is on full display. His glory falls on those intimate with me but also to my acquaintances. You and I become ‘fatherly’ or ‘motherly’ to those who’ve never trusted before, to those who have waited to see something beautiful displayed in a world that is savagely broken in two. When I give up on God before a stunning breakthrough, I deny myself, and everyone around me, from seeing God’s kingdom come to earth.

I wait on You, God. My hope is not in vain. Your glory, waiting to be revealed, is just out of sight. Give me spiritual grit to see this through. Amen

Stumbling Blocks and God’s Sovereignty

So it was not you who sent me here, but God. Genesis 45:8

Really? Joseph believes that God sent him to Egypt? I thought it was the sins of his brothers that sent him there and God just made good out of it. Such is the stumbling block of God’s sovereignty.

One of the most disturbing messages I heard when I was wrestling with the sovereignty of God was from John Piper.  He said, “Who crucified Jesus? God did!” Admittedly, it took a good year for me to make peace with a God who gives free will, knows ahead of time the choices of sinful humanity, and weaves a glorious plan of pain and redemption into the life of every child.

But here’s the thing. If I’ve never trusted God with my story and pressed in close over time to see redemption, the truth of His sovereignty will be a stumbling block to me. This sad reality characterizes most of the church. We are deeply angry with God for what He did not prevent.

But because His suffering had meaning, ours can too, when we realize that we can go through horrendous experiences with the same purpose He had, trusting, and then magnifying the worth of the Father.  Christianity is a wildfire when spread by the hot winds of adversity.  I will miss it if I’m eaten away with the anger of injustice.

Today, someone watches a loved one wither away with cancer.  The loss will either cripple them or cause them to more fully embrace the joy that life is eternal.  Today, a parent’s heart breaks over the path of a rebellious child.  They will be tempted to disown their own son or daughter, or they will choose to explore the truth of their own past rebellion against God.  They will trace, once again, his never-ending supply of loving-kindness and mercy.

With each cross comes a choice.  Meaningless suffering or the opportunity to find the heart and purposes of God in our tears.  Joseph discovered the latter. Oh, the sweetness when it’s framed in the comfort of God’s sovereignty and the power of His redemption.

There is not one thing I have experienced, or ever will experience, that can be called a meaningless tragedy.  Be lifted high over my life and as I look up, let others follow my lead and see Your glory.  Amen