Wednesday, June 26, 2013

A Well of Hope

Little brother Joe sounds a teeny weensy bit arrogant when he shares his dreams with his brothers. But Joe didn't get to this prideful position all on his own. His father, Jacob, led the way by making him the preferred son. Out of the twelve, Joseph, is the favorite of his father. This could be because he was born later in Jacob's life and because he is the child of Jacob's wife, Rachel. It could be that every time Jacob looks upon his son, he sees his beautiful mother.

Jacob makes him a beautiful coat. That coat makes Joseph stand out among the others. Shoot, Jacob even has Joseph checking in on his brothers and bringing back report to dear old dad. You know the brothers are very bothered by Joseph by now. He not only wears the coat given to him by his father, but he is checking up on them and he is telling of dreams of the brothers bowing down to Joseph. To them, Joseph is a bit big headed. Maybe just a tad too big for his britches and they are going to see to it that he learns his lesson. How dare he act as if he is better than they. Who does he think he is any way?

Have you ever been envious of another person? It's quite easy to get caught up in envy, especially if we are not in a place of content. A place where we are confident and sure about ourselves. We can be envious of just about everything and everyone. Envy kind of sneaks up on us doesn't it? If we are lonely we can envy those who are surrounded by friends. We can envy those who have a close knit family. Someone can be sharing news about their new home or job and we find ourselves wishing we had the same. Our neighbor is readying for vacation and we see they are heading off to a destination we can only dream about. The list can go on and on.

We learn to be envious of people when we are kids and as we grow envy hangs around and chokes out the blessings we do have. If we are not careful we will spend our lives looking at what others have and find ourselves blind and a little too late to appreciate the blessings that are right in front of us.

This is where Joe's brothers learn that just maybe little brother wasn't so bad after all. Turns out his dreams really did come true. They go their entire lives pushing behind them the fact that they shoved their brother off in a well and then sold him as a slave. What I love about this story is the ending. Joseph is forgiving. He is loving and kind. His brothers beg for forgiveness, but before they utter the words he has already forgiven them of their actions of long ago. He even tells them that what they meant for harm, God meant for good.

There is so much to take away from the life of Joseph. He grew from that young man with a big head to a leader of humility. He never forgot where he came from. Most of all, he never forgot his God. Joseph grew in faith as he faced each battle. That first battle he found himself in the bottom of a well, only to land up being a slave, could have made him angry and bitter. But through it all, he realized God had a bigger plan. He had a bigger purpose for all those battles that Joseph faced. He used each one to bring glory and honor to Himself.

Are you going through a battle today? Maybe your past is filled with battle after battle. I can promise you that if your not in a battle today, one day that battle will come knocking. We are sure to face to them. But we must remember, we are never alone, and what others mean for harm, God means for good. He is the only One who can turn ash into beauty.

"Joseph said to them, "Do not be afraid, for am I in the place of God? But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive. Now, therefore, do not be afraid; I will provide for you and your little ones." And he comforted them and spoke kindly to them." Genesis 50:19-21

Does that sound like a brother holding a grudge? A brother filled with anger? One looking for revenge? Just what if that is the Joseph we had read about? The story would have ended differently. Through the struggles Joe faced with his brothers gave him compassion on those he met in prison. He learned from each lesson. Each one crafted his character to resemble the God he worshipped.

"We face obstacles every day. We can have confidence, through, that through every struggle, God will help and guide us." Max Lucado

"Relationships don't thrive because the guilty are punished but because the innocent are merciful." Max Lucado

I gotta admit, if this were me, I think I'd have been saying, "You gotta be kidding me!" First he goes round and round with his brothers. He gets thrown into a well. Sold as a slave. Now he is the Pharaoh's right hand man, only to be thrown in prison next because of a lying wife of the Pharaoh. This woman chased after Joseph, wanting to get him in bed, only to be ignored and pushed away. She had to be one angry woman. Now she takes his tunic and gives it to her husband as she dreams up a lie that he had taken advantage of her. I mean, could it be any worse?

Don't we say that when we are facing a circumstance? "Could things be any worse?" Um..yes they can. Things can always be worse, but the amazing thing I'm learning is not to focus on the circumstance, but seek God and see what He is doing in me through the circumstance. Joseph had the right attitude. He never gave up. He never threw  in the towel. It's almost as if he said, "Okay, Lord, what's the next opportunity?"

Life is hard. We face difficulties daily. If we aren't careful we can allow them to overcome us and we find ourselves flat on our faces. You know, that's where I find that I grow the most. When I reach the place where I realize Jesus is all I have and He is the answer. We don't have to remain in that pit of despair. God has a plan and purpose for our lives. He can use every circumstance to bring us to the point of where He wants us. He lets nothing go to waste.

"Do not fret because of evildoers, not be envious of the workers of iniquity. For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb. Trust in the Lord, and do good; Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness." Psalm 37:1-3

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths." Proverbs 3:5-6

I have faced many battles in life that while in them I thought, "I'm never going to make it out of this." But you know what? I did. I made it to the next battle and the next, each time with more strength and wisdom than before. Trial is difficult, but God has more than trial in our plan. He has triumph designed for us! He knows the path to victory. He has already won the victory!

Things don't always go as we plan, but friends let us never forget that God's plan for us is greater than anything we could ever imagine!
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