Ever feel like that? The process is never “fun”…the refiner’s fire isn’t icing on the cake…it hurts. It’s painful. It’s broken. And…it’s part of it. The process. But—the process…will always, always, always, ALWAYS friends—lead to praise. Because—HE IS FAITHFUL. ALWAYS. Do you believe that?!
Looking back on my life at just the wee age of 33;)–I already see this over and over again. The Lord took me to China to do mission work after I graduated from Auburn at 22. It was one of the most amazing years of my life. It was SOOOO hard. But it was so worth it. Some days I would stay in my room just crying to the Lord that I felt SO ALONE–everyone I tried to talk to didn’t speak English…I missed my family and friends…and some times at night I would wake up to Asian cockroaches…and trust me–they are huge. BUT my poor husband STILL has to hear me talk 10 years later about what the Lord taught me during my time there. How my faith was strengthened! How thankful I am that the Lord carried me–that HE was always there for me to talk to…that even on days I felt crazy, He blessed my socks off. I saw many come to Christ. I cried with them through persecution. My faith was tested big time through it. And in the end—my hands were lifted high in praise. GOD IS FAITHFUL.
Fast forward after returning home…thinking I was going to go right back over…meeting my husband…change of plans…fell in love and 10 days after we got engaged–we lost Richard’s father to leukemia. Quite the roller coaster. My engagement was filled with tears…lots of them—walking my fiance/husband through pain. AND praising God that his father trusted the Lord as his savior before he went to be with Him…FOREVER. GOD IS FAITHFUL.
I struggled with fear that I would never be able to have children (heck, I was convinced I’d never marry and was called to the nations instead)—and 14 months after our wedding date–Parker was born. 14 months later Laney came. And then I had the joy of experiencing a difficult time trying for another…at the time it wasn’t joyful…but when baby Frank came—it sure was. GOD IS FAITHFUL.
OVER AND OVER AND OVER…God is always faithful! But in between the “overs”–there is usually a process.
And that brings us to the story of Joseph. A story of pain, rejection and injustice. We start today with the beloved 17 year old son of Israel (Jacob), Joseph. Israel adored Joseph. He was the son bore to him by his beloved Rachel…the son they never thought they would have. And if anyone knew about the process in the chapter of Genesis–hands down…it’s Joseph. Rachel has gone to be with the Lord…and the only thing he has left to remind him of her are her precious children…Joseph and Benjamin. At all costs–he will protect them. And treasure them.
While Joseph possesses his father’s favor, the coveted coat of many colors and things are on the up and up, the brothers are jeolous…and the process begins again. Joseph was a very godly man, but he unwisely added to their jeolousy by sharing his dreams with his brothers, gloating in their meaning and their having to bow down to him in them. Later, the brothers (minus Joseph) were all tending flocks in Shechem which was about 45 miles from Hebron where they lived while Joseph and Israel…were doing what? Just spending a little quality time together at his mere age of 17. Times were good. Until he was asked to go check on his brothers. A 45 mile hike–90 mile round trip? Makes you hear a different tone in Joseph’s voice when he says “Very well” to his father’s instructions to just go check in on them. Today’s teens wouldn’t go for that would they? He FINALLY gets to Shechem–and they aren’t there. He had to be so frustrated and tired!!! They have moved on to Dothan. Um. Another 20 miles away. SO…he FINALLY gets to Dothan. And how do his brother greet him? They betray him. They plot to kill him. They throw him in a cistern and sell him. They are done with him, his coat and his silly dreams. And they never have to see him again.
The only one who doesn’t betray him completely is Reuben (Leah’s firstborn son…and Jacob’s actual firstborn…fitting, huh?, to have Jacob’s firstborn the one who should probably struggle the most with jeolousy be the only one to try and save him)–but because Reuben was away when they sold Joseph to the Ismaelites there was no one to stop them. Joseph goes from being a favored son to a slave. He is lifted up in Potiphers house and favored again…but thrown in prison after being wrongly accused…yet in prison he won favor again. Over and over—Joseph hit the valley, but over and over the Lord lifted Joseph back up AGAIN and AGAIN. It was part of the process.
We can look at Joseph’s story and read it–and the pain of his process doesn’t bother us so much because WE KNOW the outcome. But remember–WHILE it was happening Joseph DID NOT. It didn’t make sense. Their were tears of loss…of frustration…of hurt. PAIN. He lost his mom. He now lost his dad. His brothers had turned their backs on him…and just as things started to finally come together–his life would fall apart all over again. But THE LORD WAS WITH HIM. He was with Joseph when he was sold as a slave. He was with him at Potipher’s. He was with Him when he resisted seduction. And again in prison. THE LORD WAS WITH HIM! HE HAD A PLAN FOR THE PROCESS! Do you believe that the Lord has a plan for your process? Whatever it is. Joseph didn’t lash out at his brothers when they sold him. He didn’t argue with Potipher or his wife when he was put away. He trusted the Lord–and the Lord was with Him!
Let us trust the Lord in our process knowing that their is PURPOSE and even a praise story in the end! It will not be easy. It may not be fun. It may be full of pain, uncertainty and tears. But I can promise, that like Joseph’s process, IT WILL BE WORTH IT. Take some time today…no matter what PROCESS you are in or where you are in it…and remember God’s faithfulness to you…OVER and OVER and OVER again. He promises to never leave or forsake those who have trusted Him as Lord. Hold tight to Him. BECAUSE–GOD IS FAITHFUL.