08 Sep “For All” – Day Ten
Scripture: Genesis 50:20a NLT – “You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good.”
Observation: Joseph shares two universal truths in his statement. The first is that we will all experience people, circumstances, and thoughts intent on harming us. The second and greater truth is that our God uses all things – even those intent on harming us – for good according to his purpose.
Application: When I was nine years old, my parents sold our house and moved our family to a new one. They did this to make my life more difficult… at least that’s what I thought at the time. The change meant more than just a new house, but also a new neighborhood and school district. Television and films often romanticize the experience of being the new kid, but the reality is that the process of assimilating to a new home, friend group, and school district can be full of hardship. In my experience, there were three sources of difficulty:
- Some of it was caused by others – suspicious glances, standoffishness, bullying. Resistance to change starts young. I’ve learned that I’m more resilient when I put God’s affirmation above the affirmation of others.
- Some of the adversity was self-inflicted – fear of the unknown; unrealistic expectations; disagreement with the decision to move. Most of it focused on me attempting to change the past or control things that were outside of my control. I’ve learned there is peace in knowing that God’s control doesn’t start at the end of mine, but includes it all.
- Some of the challenges were just part of the process – learning a new home address and telephone number; making new friends (I’m an introvert). I’ve learned that God meets us wherever we are and when it comes to maturing us, he lets no experience go to waste.
Moving from one home to another in my childhood was a formative experience for me, but it isn’t a tragic one. It wasn’t a difficult diagnosis, the sudden loss of a family member or one of many alternative unwelcome scenarios, but I’ll be bold enough to suggest that the template for dealing with it is the same – invite God into the fray with you.
Seasons of suffering can lead us to doubt or even blame God, but inviting God into where we are can make a big difference in how we manage through it. Mark Batterson captured it well when he wrote, “God is great not just because nothing is too big. God is great because nothing is too small.” The circumstance we’re in, whether it’s as trivial as a papercut or as significant as a literal fight for our life, may be the very circumstance God can use to mold our character to that of Jesus.
If we invite him in and ask, I believe that sometimes God will deliver us from suffering. However, we can learn from Joseph’s experience that if we invite God into our circumstance, then he will always deliver us through it. We can persevere in faith and, on the other side of our suffering, see that God intended it all for good.
Prayer: God, thank you for all the beauty and goodness in this world you created. When sin entered the world, it became broken and we experience suffering because of that. You know what I am suffering through right now, and I invite you into it. Use my current circumstance to form in me the character of Jesus. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.
Impressions & Communications J-Teamer
Austin and his wife Shayna have been coming to The Journey for seven years. They have two sons – Ezra, five and Isaiah, two and a half. Austin is partial to double entendres and pepperoni pizza and is always brewing something – either new content for The Journey Communications Team, ways to make the Impressions Team laugh, or hazy New England IPAs at his house.
- Check out this Thought in Three about how leaning into our challenges can help us develop a better, faster, stronger… faith.
- Read the larger context of Genesis 50:20, the full story of Joseph (yes, that Joseph of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat fame) beginning at Genesis chapter 37, and 39-50.
- Read the full serenity prayer here.
- Think of suffering or a challenging circumstance that you are experiencing right now. Talk to God about it and ask a bold question: What can you teach me through this?