Recently, I have been blindsided by emotion and pain from the actions of a former church. So much so, that it has been mentally and spiritually overwhelming at times. This has perplexed me greatly, as the church and community where we currently serve is absolutely the best place we have ever been a part of. My guess is that we are still in a healing process, and that processing the pain of the past few years is God's way of helping us become fully functional again as His servants.
Joseph was in slavery and prison for 13 of his first 30 years of life. I often wonder about his conversations with God during that time. Sure, some of that time was good, but what about the dark days in prison when he had zero assurance that he would ever be released? One of the glimmers of hope that we see in Genesis 39:21-23 is that God continued to use Joseph, even in prison. No, he was not immediately released, but it was like God gave him something to hold on to... something to keep him focused through it all. Of course, being human, I'm sure that Joseph had some really dark days of despair. What got him through those days? Joseph simply had to remain faithful to God, even without the knowledge of what would come later. In due time, God lifted him out of that prison and rewarded his faithfulness, but it was obviously not according to Joseph's time table.
In the past few years, I have shared about my struggle and journey with anxiety and depression. There have been many victories, and many setbacks. Much of the pain, anxiety, and fear that have gripped my life have been brought about by the very people that God has tasked me with serving in the church. Most of the time, I have tried to cloak this truth... because it is not "normal" to talk about hurt in the church. Well, here's the truth... we hurt people. The church is made up of sinful people, and that sin causes us to be selfish and uncaring. Obviously, I do not like the fact that I also hurt people, and have at times been the one that caused the hurt in the lives of others. It is a sobering fact of life... none of us are perfect.
However, there is hope. God, in His infinite wisdom and love, shows us His love and forgiveness... even when we have failed Him in every way. He gives His encouragement and strength, even in the midst of trials. Just like God used Joseph to minister to those in prison, God has used many of you to encourage and minister to my family over the past few years. You have been the Lord's hands and feet when we needed it most. For that, I am so very grateful.
Later in the story, we see that Joseph is reunited with his brothers, but we see that it is a VERY emotional time for Joseph in Genesis 45. He is able to forgive his brothers, but it is my guess that it took many years for God to get him to that point.
The fact that we often miss is that God was at work on a much larger scale during the story of Joseph. He used this situation and Joseph's life to save what would become the nation of Israel. Joseph could not have known that at the time, but God had a plan... even in Joseph's uncertainty.
I cannot always know what God is doing behind the scenes. but even in dark days I can hold on to the the words of Paul: