I wrote a post recently about feeling lost. Feeling like there was more for me out there and not feeling fulfilled until I get there. Just struggling with a lot of feelings about life and the turns it’s taken.
I was overwhelmed with the responses via comments, emails and facebook messages. I got responses from people I never imagined would feel the same way I did. Friends who I thought “had it all together” and loved life with no issues! Was I wrong!
It got me thinking, there are probably a lot of us out here who feel like this at one time or another. Maybe often or for long periods of time, maybe just for short seasons.
So, I wanted to look into the Bible and see who else may have felt this way and how it was handled. I believe that God gave us the Bible to be able to learn from it, to hear His words to us, to relate to people who have been down our road and see what God has to say about it.
I thought I’d first look at Joseph. You know, the one with the amazing technicolor dreamcoat? I really like Joseph and his story, so I think that’s why he popped into my mind first.
Joseph had a very interesting life. He was Jacob’s favorite son. This did not sit well with his brothers, as you can imagine! Then, to heap on the reasons for them to hate him, Joseph tells his brothers he’s had dreams about his brothers. Dreams where his brothers were bowing down to him. The youngest! As you can guess this did not sit well with the brothers!
To make matters even worse Jacob had a very special, colorful coat made just for him. Have you ever seen movies that take place in Biblical times? Most people are not wearing clothes with much color. Their clothes are very brown, beige, bland colors. Having clothes with COLOR was very special!
Between the way that Jacob treated Joseph and the dreams he had, I would think Joseph believed he was going to lead a special life. A life filled with good things, maybe leadership of some kind, a life of favor. I’m guessing he thought he had a special purpose, at least in his family (based on his dreams).
But that’s not exactly how his life played out. His brothers sold him into slavery, told their dad he was dead, and separated Joseph from his beloved family for quite some time.
Joseph was sold to Potiphar, an Egyptian officer. This is where things start looking up a little bit. Remember though, not the road Joseph thought he would be on. He was still separated from his family and sold as a slave. However, God blessed Joseph in his “new life”.
The Lord was with Joseph, so he succeeded in everything he did as he served in the home of his Egyptian master. 3 Potiphar noticed this and realized that the Lord was with Joseph, giving him success in everything he did.
But, for poor Joseph, every time things start looking up, they take a swift downward plumet. Potiphar’s wife wanted Joseph. In a bad way. He would have none of it. He knew that was wrong and honored Potiphar’s marriage. Well, Mrs. Potiphar did not take kindly to being rejected and told her husband that Joseph tried to rape her! This landed Joseph right in jail.
Can you imagine going from being second in command under Potiphar to being thrown in prison? Talk about feeling lost and wondering where your life was going!
But, again, the Bible says that God was with Joseph and blessed him for honoring Him. Joseph was put in charge over the prisoners and all that happened there. God continued to put him in leadership, just not necessarily in the places that Joseph might have thought it would be.
God gave Joseph the ability to interpret dreams. This served him well in jail and then again with the Pharaoh. God gave Pharaoh a warning, through dreams, of a time of fest and a time of famine. Pharaoh could see that God’s Spirit was at work in Joseph and put him in charge of the entire land of Egypt. Quite a long way from being in prison!
Eventually, Joseph’s dreams dreamed as a teenager came true. Without knowing it, his brothers came to him, bowing before him, asking for food during the years of famine. Because Joseph had let God work in him so strongly, because he let God reign in his heart, he was able to forgive his brothers for their horrible treatment of him and his family was reunited.
Now, this story has a happy ending. This may sound morbid, but I don’t believe that in real life we always get our happy ending. I still believe God loves us and can be close with us, but we may not get “everything we ever wanted”.
But I think we can learn a lot from how Joseph handled these times when he could have wallowed in feelings of hopelessness, feelings of being lost and wandering aimlessly, wondering when God was going to use him the way he saw in his dreams.
Genesis 41:52 says: Joseph named his second son Ephraim, for he said, “God has made me fruitful in this land of my grief.”
I like how Joseph ACKNOWLEDGES that he dealt with grief. We see him following God so well and it could be easy to think that he didn’t struggle with it. This verse gives us a glimpse into his feelings and thoughts during those dark times. It was a land of grief, BUT God was with him and made him fruitful.
Why was he fruitful? I think it’s because he never lost his connection with God. I know that sounds so trite, but I think Joseph really worked at that. We see in his story how it says that God was with him in those dark times. We see Joseph’s character.
He didn’t seem to become bitter. He could have NOT interpreted those dreams. He could have sat in the corner with his arms crossed and refused to do anything to help anyone who put him in prison. But he chose to use what God had given him.
He COULD have gone ahead and had sex with Potiphar’s wife. She asked him day after day after day to do so. He could have done what she asked because of position as someone who could punish him (as she did). He could have appeased her to save his own skin. And I’m sure she wasn’t so bad to look at! But he chose what GOD would have him to do. He resisted the temptation. He did what was right and stayed true to his character. And it landed him in prison! But he didn’t buckle under the pressure.
So, what does this mean for us who feel lost and wandering, wondering when we will be released from our “jail”?
- Don’t give up. Don’t turn our back on God even if we feel He has done that to us. Maybe He’s still with us after all. Maybe, just maybe, He does still love us and sees us and hasn’t forgotten about us and the dreams He’s given us in our hearts.
- Use this time to refine our character. It’d be so easy to get lazy, bitter, frustrated and hard hearted. We have to fight that. With all our strength we have to fight those feelings and choose a different path.
- Let God use us where we are. It may look WAY different than we thought or hoped it would be. But it’s where we are, so we can choose to let God use us HERE or reject Him and miss out on seeing Him work and feeling His presence. It’s our choice.
- Don’t do all this expecting that perfect happy ending. We may NOT get the big dreams we want or expected. Do this because it’s what God is giving us right now. Don’t rest on promises of something more. Live in the day, the moment that God has given us now. Whether that is in a pit, in a palace, or in prison, it’s where we are now.
That is a HARD list! I don’t really like it too much. But, as best as I can tell from where I’m sitting, that’s what I think God might be telling us, fellow wanderers, from Joseph’s story.
What do YOU think?