“Now therefore be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither (here): for God did send me before you to preserve life. For these two years hath the famine been in the land: and yet [there are] five years, in the which there shall neither be earing (plowing) nor harvest. And God sent me before you to preserve you a posterity in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance. So now it was not you that sent me hither (here), but God:”Genesis 45:5-8a
Many years ago, Rebekah and I visited a church – the first we ever attended together as a couple. The church was very small, with only about 40 people in attendance that first Wednesday night. We were asked to come back on Sunday when the pastor would be there, and we were excited to try it again as the people were quite friendly. The pastor endeared himself to us and really went out of his way to welcome and encourage us. We fell in love with the church and the pastor met with us for marriage counseling on Wednesdays prior to the service. We wanted to get married in the church, but it was too small for all the people we were inviting. Our pastor was part of our wedding and performed the initial part of the ceremony, just before Rebekah’s dad walked her down the aisle and finished the ceremony.
We learned a lot in that church, particularly the ropes of being in the ministry. We grew close to the pastor and the members there, and I ended up working at the church as full time staff. I thought there was no way we would ever leave that church, and we saw ourselves as lifetime members. Things were going great until they were not. There were things that started to happened that I tried to ignore, but it was becoming clear that things were not the same as they once were. I soon lost my job there at the church, and it was the final straw in us deciding it was time to move on.
It was a painful time in our life, but it had to end this way or we would have never left. We did not understand what God was doing at that time in our lives, and there was the pain of leaving friends and family who still attended. The church we attended after that was not a permanent church home either, but God taught us things there that would change our lives and prepare us for what was to come in the future. We can look back at these painful times and see how God orchestrated these events for His good. We see how He used these instances to grow us and prepare us for the coming of our daughter, Lanie, in our lives. He was also preparing us to be a part of the Freedom That Lasts addictions ministry. Through the pain it was hard to see the plan, but it was evident that God was leading us in this way, and it was evident that He had planned for what He was allowing and taking us through.
I was not even close to being as spiritual as Joseph as I complained and felt sorry for myself. I did not recognize God in any of it until years after the fact. I have never been a quick learner, and this was evident as it took me quite some time to see God in this situation. Joseph’s brothers greatly wronged him as they tried to get rid of him and thought they would never see him again. They sought him harm and were quite successful, but Joseph did not hold a grudge and was not bitter, when most of us would have been. He saw God in all of the situations he had been through, and he was a testimony to his brothers in how he responded to them. He was used of God to save the lives of many, including the lives of his brothers who so wickedly despised him.
Do you see God in the situations of your life? Are you bitter because life did not turn out the way wanted or because someone did you wrong? Do you pray for the people in your life who do wrong against you? Do you chalk things up to “good or bad luck”, or do you believe in the plans of a sovereign God? God allows trials in our life for His honor and glory, and for His divine purpose. Joseph realized it was not his brothers who had sent him to Egypt, but it was God who orchestrated it for His greater plan. May we follow God and live for Him so that we may see His handiwork and leading in our lives. May we trust God when we don’t understand and may we say, “but God meant it for good” when we come to understand. Proverbs 3:5-6 states, “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” Trust in the LORD!