I knew that C.S. Lewis and I had more in common than our Christianity when he said, "You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me." Welcome to a celebration of faith, tea, and the written word. I'm always engaged in a book, and whether it's one I'm reading or one of the inspirational historical romances I write, there's always a cup of tea close by. Join me in a cup as we chat about faith, our favorite books and the exciting places our reading and writing adventures take us.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

You Must be Doing Everything Wrong!

"Your life is such a mess, you must be doing everything wrong. After all, if you’d been following God’s will, everything would be hunky dory, right?"

Ever heard somebody say that?

Have you ever experienced  a season where things just seem hard, or everything goes wrong? I'm in a bit of a season like that, myself. In other words, I'm not on a path. I'm stumbling along a rocky hike. Mulling through my head are prayers, reminders to trust in God, but also the niggling thought that maybe God is disciplining me. Maybe if I were "better" my path would be smoother.
Well, God is a God of discipline. But is it always true that, Blessing=God likes you? Trials=God is mad at you?

Thankfully, the Bible says that isn't necessarily true.

Take Joseph. As you might remember, Joseph was his father Israel’s favorite son. He's the one who got the colorful coat of an overseer, but he was also a good kid, and the Bible tells us he went the extra mile to obey his father’s orders.
File:Jacob blesses Joseph and gives him the coat.JPG
Joseph's Coat of many colors. Owen Jones, public domain.
The Lord also gave Joseph dreams, revealing the promise that Joseph would be elevated above his family. In a horrible scene of sibling rivalry, his brothers threw him down a pit, where the seventeen-year-old begged for his life. They wanted to kill him; however, they ended up selling him (cheaply) as a slave to passing Ishmaelites.
File:Joseph cast into the pit.JPG
Joseph cast into the Pit, Owen Jones. Public domain.
Joseph’s troubles didn’t end there. As a slave, he was falsely accused of sexual sin and then was imprisoned. He didn’t deserve any of his punishments. For years, Joseph was humbled, and anyone looking from the outside in would have judged him as lowly, guilty, and scorned by God.

When Joseph correctly interpreted the dream of Pharaoh’s cupbearer, in which the cupbearer would be reinstated to the Pharaoh’s favor, Joseph saw an opportunity to get out of prison.

Pharaoh's chief cup-bearer, however, forgot all about Joseph, never giving him another thought. Genesis 40:23 NLT

Joseph must have wondered all those years if those dreams God gave him so long ago had been imagined. Or if God forgot about him. Or if he'd done something wrong to deserve this cruddy life. While the Bible doesn't say he complained, he might have been tempted to have a pity party or question his God the two whole years it took for the cupbearer to remember him…and this was the moment when God pulled Joseph out of prison to exalt him to be the vizier of all Egypt, to use him for His purposes to save and protect His people Israel, and to glorify Himself.
File:Joseph made ruler in egypt.jpg
Joseph in Egypt (living a good life!). Public Domain.
Sometimes we sit in a prison of circumstances that aren’t of our making, and it can make us wonder if we’re on God’s path. Especially when other voices suggest we're way off base (friends, the enemy, etc).

I've certainly been there. When my pastor husband was called to our parish, we sold our house in our old town and bought one in our new community. The day before escrow closed, however, the buyers of our home backed out. In turn, we had to back out of the house we'd bought and put our old house back on the market—and you all know how great the real estate market’s been the past few years.

Our house sold again quickly, but would you believe this scenario repeated itself not once but twice. During this difficult season, I questioned whether we’d done the right thing, whether we’d heard God correctly, whether we’d done something wrong.

Surely, others told us, if God wanted you to do this, the transition would have been easier.

That certainly wasn’t true for Joseph. I don’t know why God took our family through that difficult period (although we were refined through it), but I can tell you He miraculously sold our home three times in a bad real estate market. He was there, whether or not we felt Him or saw His hand making the path straight. And then He lifted us out of it, to His glory.

When we are in difficulties and question whether or not God cares, or is even punishing us, submit the event to the Lord. We may well be on the wrong path, but we may also be walking through a valley by His leading.

Let Him do with it what He wills and choose to grow through it. He may have a big picture we cannot see.

“I am your brother Joseph, the one you sold into Egypt! And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you.” Genesis 45:4-5

(originally appeared on Inkwell Inspirations)

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