By Jason Hines –

It's been an interesting week in my household, with its positives and negatives. Unfortunately, the negatives have outweighed the positives and we find ourselves with new challenges that we were not expecting. When negative things happen, it is only natural to respond with doubt, fear, trepidation, and with sadness and disappointment at the current state of affairs. Those feelings are normal, but should be an anathema to Christians who rest their hopes on an all-knowing and omnipotent God. Whenever these feelings come, as they did this week, I am reminded of a lesson a mentor of mine taught me from a story in the Bible.

Giovanni Andrea de Ferrari - 'Joseph's Coat Brought to Jacob', oil on canvas, c. 1640, El Paso Museum of Art - Creative Commons

Giovanni Andrea de Ferrari – 'Joseph's Coat Brought to Jacob', oil on canvas, c. 1640, El Paso Museum of Art – Creative Commons

I've actually talked about this story before, but I talked about it pertaining to a different set of circumstances. InGen 37:25-28, Jacob's sons trick Jacob into thinking that his favorite son Joseph has been killed, when in truth he has been sold into slavery. Imagine the pain that Jacob must have felt. The agony he went through, not only for the loss of a son, but for the firstborn of his favored wife Rachel. We know that this affected him for many years, because when it came time for his sons to go to Egypt to buy food (from Joseph as it turned out) Jacob refused to send Benjamin because he did not want anything to happen to him. For years Jacob grieved, and God never revealed to him that his son was actually alive. Why did he allow Jacob to suffer for so long? My friend and mentor surmises that God could not allow Jacob to find out about his son. Jacob loved Joseph so much that if he ever discovered that Joseph was living as a slave in Egypt, there is nothing that could've stopped Jacob from going to rescue his son. But Joseph was needed in Egypt. It is not assured that Egypt would have survived the famine without Joseph being there to interpret Pharaoh's dreams and institute the taxing system that allowed not only Egypt to survive, but Jacob and his family as well. At the end of the story there is happy ending, with a kingdom saved and a family reunited.

We as human beings suffer from finiteness and myopic vision. We can't see the end from the beginning and so when we tend to fixate on the negativity of now when the bad times come. But that fixation doesn't make sense when the story has yet to be completed, and especially when we say we put our trust in a God who can see the end from the beginning.  For example, about eight years ago I was at my lowest point emotionally, trying to mend what felt to me to be an irreparably broken heart. I thought I would never recover. How could I have known that in 3 years I would meet my wife in one of the most inauspicious meetings in the history of mankind? How could I know that 5 years after being at my lowest point I would be married to a beautiful, intelligent, incredibly wonderful person? I didn't know then, but the story continued and I am on the mountaintop after wallowing in the valley. And if that pain in any way helped me get to where I am now, I look back on that time and smile because of where I am now. I don't know where you find yourself today, what negative circumstances you may be dealing with.  You will at some point experience doubt, fear, sadness, disappointment – these things come. They are the cost of doing business in an imperfect world. However, avoid the temptation to believe that your story is finished when it is only in the middle. If we can just hold on things will get better because God is still writing our stories.

(Originally posted at TheHinesight.)

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