Trusting God when things keep getting worse, not better

Once again, Jon Bloom’s monthly letter from Desiring God just hit the mark dead-on.  This time he’s writing about Joseph and his time spent in an Egyptian prison, wondering why he was there and what God was doing.

Genesis chapters 37-41 only tell the low and high points of Joseph’s Egyptian slavery and imprisonment.  But he spent at least 12 years there before he suddenly became Prime Minister.  And as he sought to trust and obey God during that terribly lonely, desolate time, things went from bad to worse. . . .

Darkness had swallowed the light again.  Joseph dreaded the night in this foul Egyptian hellhole.  It was hard to fight off the relentless hopelessness as he waited the escape of sleep.

Day after monotonous day passed with no sign of change.  The familiar desperation surged hot in his chest.  His youth was seeping out the cracks of his cage.  He was pacing in his soul.  Joseph wanted to scream.

Fists to his forehead he pleaded again with God in the dark for deliverance.

And he remembered.  It was the remembering that kept his hope alive and bitterness at bay. . . .

I haven’t spent any time in an Egyptian prison, or any other prison for that matter, but there are days (weeks? months? years?) when to some extent I feel like I can identify with Joseph, “fists to [my] forehead,” pleading with God.  Skipping ahead to the end of the letter, Jon writes,

In the biblical account it’s tempting to only see Joseph’s heroic character and achievements.  But God does not want us to miss the largely silent, desperate years Joseph endured.  Imagine the pain of his brothers’ betrayal, the separation from his father, the horror of slavery, the seduction and false accusation of Potiphar’s wife, and the desperation he felt as his youth passed away in prison.

Sometimes faithfulness to God and his word sets us on a course where circumstances get worse, not better.  It is then that knowing God’s promises and his ways are crucial.  Faith in God’s future grace for us is what sustains us in those desperate moments. . . .

Our current circumstances, however dismal or successful, are not our story’s end.  They are chapters in a much larger story that really does have a happily ever after.

To read this letter in full, you can find it here at Jon’s page on Desiring God’s blog.

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