“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” Romans 8:28
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’; 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. Because we know the outcome we sometimes forget what these heroes went through before their great breakthroughs.
Take Joseph, for example.
A Glimpse of a Great Future
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, this great honour wasn’t just handed to him one day, or over a few days, or even within a couple of years. It was many years before Joseph was to see the fulfilment of God’s promises. When Joseph became a threat to his brothers they sold him into slavery and faked his death. Joseph served as a humble servant in Pharaoh’s palace and even went to prison – for years!
Of course we know all this, but sometimes because we know it, we tend to gloss over these ‘gory’ bits because we know that it all works out for Joseph, so we don’t pause to consider what these times must have actually been like for him.
How would Joseph have felt, having been given a glimpse by God of his great future in prophetic dreams, to have found himself in such a place?
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 read it backwards, as we can now, skimming over the hard bits, picking out only the good, encouraging parts, till he got to the happy ending where he’s ruler of Egypt, showering grace upon the brothers who once betrayed him.
How did he feel, 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 to the Lord, but surely 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.
God is Writing Your Story
We need to view our own story the right way round too.
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.
The Day of Breakthrough
Like Joseph, you and I don’t know how our story will end, but we do know that our God 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 trusted that God would be faithful to do as he had promised. Joseph stayed the course, remained steadfast and waited.
Joseph 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 going 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 remember, there’s a ‘thread’ running through Joseph’s story. Here it is:
“The Lord was with Joseph, so he succeeded in everything he did as he served in the home of his Egyptian master.” Genesis 39:2
”The Lord was with Joseph in the prison and showed him his faithful love. And the Lord made Joseph a favorite with the prison warden”. Genesis 39:21
See it? The Lord was with Joseph. The Lord is with you, and I too.
Jill McIlreavy 💜