Trusting God in the unexpectedAug 12, 2020
In life, we expect to have certain defining moments, but we think we know what they will be: a graduation, a first job, a wedding day, a new baby. But what happens when a new “milestone” pops up and changes the trajectory you thought you had?
In the months after Joey’s Down syndrome diagnosis, I wallowed in depression. I constantly felt like I couldn’t quite get my footing. This was not, I grumbled to myself, how life was supposed to be.
That’s a phrase I hear regularly: supposed to be. At moms’ groups: Is parenting supposed to be this hard? In e-mails from readers: Is this really where I’m supposed to be? And over and over, from friends, family, and even my own heart: It’s not supposed to be this way.
At the heart of it all, here’s what we are really saying: “I thought I had it all under control. But I didn’t see this coming, and now I don’t know what to do.”
So when that happens, how do we course correct? How do we get back on track?
Sometimes we don’t. We don’t get back. Instead, we start moving forward on a new path, one that we never saw coming… but that God had planned all along. Trusting God in our new circumstances isn’t easy, but it is important.
Supposed to be
Let me share with you one of my favorite examples: Joseph. No, not my Joseph, although he’s definitely one of my favorite examples, too. Today I want to go aaaaaaaalllllllllllllllllll the way back to the beginning, in the book of Genesis.
Joseph, who was his father’s favorite son.
Joseph, who was the object of his brothers’ scorn. (If you’re wondering why, see the above statement and remember that Joseph was 17 when his father gave him the famous coat of many colors. I’m sure he handled it with total maturity and no pride at all…………….)
Joseph, who even though he was the 11th son of Jacob (far from the power position of firstborn), dreamed his entire family would bow down to him.
That Joseph. I’m guessing he had a pretty good idea of how he thought his life was going to go.
Instead, Joseph quickly found his whole world turned upside down. His brothers threw him in a pit and plotted to kill him—and instead sold him into slavery. He worked hard for his master and quickly became a trusted servant, only to have the rug pulled out from under him again when he was falsely accused of rape and thrown into prison. (I am running so very quickly through his story, but it is worth reading every single word. You can find Joseph’s full story in Genesis chapters 37-50.)
I have to imagine Joseph had a few moments where he cried, “God, this is not how it is supposed to be!”
Trusting God is with us
Altogether, Joseph spent around 13 years in this state. Thirteen years of slavery and imprisonment. I don’t know about you, but I get a little impatient with God if He hasn’t answered my prayers after a week.
Still, several times the writer of Genesis assures us that “the Lord was with Joseph.” Joseph was never forgotten or out of God’s sight and care. We can see it in the trust he earns from Potiphar. We can see it when he interprets dreams for his fellow prisoners. We can see it when he again earns trust from his jailers. God was with him.
When we are going through struggles, it’s easy to think God has forgotten us. But it is important that we don’t only see Him in our deliverance, but that we see Him right there in the messy middle with us. When I was struggling through the early days of Joey’s diagnosis, I saw God in the people who clamored to hold and snuggle him. I watched God provide friends to help watch my older kids, help fold laundry, or stop by with lunch. I heard Him whisper to me in a moment of despair. My sadness wasn’t miraculously removed—nor was Joey’s extra chromosome—but God was with us.
Are you trusting God in your unexpected journey? How are you seeing Him with you in the messy middle?
Trusting God intends it for good
Years later, after Joseph was released from prison and became the second most powerful man in all of Egypt, after his brothers came to him groveling for food in the midst of a famine, after he forgave them and provided for them and brought them and their families to live with him in Egypt… after everything that had happened, Joseph uttered one of the most profound statements I’ve ever read.
When their father Jacob dies and Joseph’s brothers worry he will now take his revenge, he assures them, “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good” (50:20). God meant it for good. So much of Joseph’s life did not go the way he planned—but all along, he was trusting God because he know He intended it for good. God was always in control.
My friend, that is every bit as true for you. God is in control, and He wants to use your life circumstances—happy or sad, exciting or mundane, easy or difficult—for good. He has a purpose and a plan, even when it’s not what we expected.
Trusting God is at work
I don’t know if you’ll get Joseph’s happy ending. I don’t know if you’ll be able to stand back and say, “Ah, I see now what He was doing all along.” But I can promise you that God is making a masterpiece with every single stroke, and we need only to trust Him.
And He is worthy of that trust.
Whatever you are facing right now, lay it at His feet. Trust God’s purpose and plan. And take the next step.
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