Most of us were read or told the Bible stories as children of Old Testament characters such as Joseph, Moses, Noah, Elijah, Elisha, and others. We view them as ‘greats’ – heroes of the faith (rightly so) because, they pushed through. They were overcomers. Their stories have triumphant endings
But we have a tendency to read their stories from ‘back to front’. Or we recap their stories ‘in a nutshell’, almost sanitising them – leaving out the heartache, the sometimes long periods of waiting, the pain, the questioning they sometimes went through. We know the outcome and we sometimes forget what these heroes went through before their great breakthroughs.
Take Joseph, for example.
Joseph ruled as Prime Minister of Egypt. What an honour and blessing bestowed on this man who started out life as a shepherd and the youngest son.
However, before this great honour and fulfilment of God’s promise, Joseph had been in prison for between 5-8 years. Before prison, he had served as a humble servant in Pharaoh’s palace. And before that, he had been sold into slavery by his own brothers!
Yes, we know this. But sometimes we can gloss over the gory bits because we know that it all works out for Joseph, so we don’t pause to consider what these times must have been like for him.
How would he have felt, having been given a glimpse by God of his great future in prophetic dreams, to have found himself sold as a slave? We know that Joseph’s story has a happy ending – but Joseph didn’t know that. He had to trust God. He had to live his story from beginning to end – not speed read it backwards, as we can, from the happy ending to the beginning and back again and pick out all the best bits.
How would he have felt, languishing in an Egyptian prison? At first, did he think ‘I’ll be alright, God will rescue me in a few days and this whole misunderstanding will be sorted out’?
When it didn’t happen, and the days turned into weeks, the weeks into months and the months into years, how must Joseph have felt?
We know he remained faithful, but he must have had some hard, dark days.
Then, one day, years later he was suddenly released from prison and given the highest office in the land.
Because God is always true to his promises.
We need to view our own story the right way round
Do you ever feel like Joseph; stuck in a place, position or circumstance, without any hope of escape, where the weeks, months and even years seem to drag on? You may feel that that promised breakthrough will never come.
It’s tempting to try to fast forward- to try to get to the last chapter where everything is has worked out and you have your happy ending.
But every story has to have a beginning and middle before you get to the end. God is writing your story! There are lessons to be learned along the way; a deepening and strengthening of your faith that could never happen if you were to fast forward to the end.
Like Joseph, you and I don’t know how our story will end, but we do know that God is a God who keeps his promises. If he has said he will do it, he will do it!
We can take encouragement from Joseph’s story.
Joseph had seen glimpses of what God had in store for him in his dreams as a teenager, so many years before. So he simply trusted that God would be faithful to do as he had promised. Joseph stayed the course, remained steadfast and waited.
He didn’t know, when he woke up that day in prison after years of being seemingly forgotten there, that this was THE day that his life was about to change.
We don’t know what today will bring. Today may be that day when something changes or shifts. Today may be your day of breakthrough!
In the meanwhile, trust that the ‘author and finisher’ of our faith knows exactly how your story ends and is working all things together for your good. He knows what he’s doing!
“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”
Jill McIlreavy 💜