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Thursday, April 25, 2013

You Must Be Doing Everything Wrong!


 
 by Susanne Dietze

"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

***
Fun Question: What do you think Joseph's coat of many colors looked like?
Serious Questions: Have you submitted your difficulties to the Lord to use as He wills? Like Joseph, can you serve God no matter what your circumstances?

***

Susanne Dietze began writing love stories in high school, casting her friends in the starring roles. Today, she writes in the hope that her historical romances will encourage and entertain others to the glory of God. Married to a pastor and the mom of two, Susanne loves fancy-schmancy tea parties, travel, and curling up on the couch with a costume drama and a plate of nachos. She won first place in the Historical category of the 2011-2012 Phoenix Rattler, and her work has finaled in the Genesis, Gotcha!, and Touched By Love Contests. Susanne is represented by Tamela Hancock Murray of The Steve Laube Agency. You can visit her on her website, www.susannedietze.com.

12 comments:

  1. I think we can't help but wonder why things are going "wrong". Because it is true that God uses negative circumstances at times to guide us back to the better path. AND He purposely allows trials to strengthens us. I guess we just have to stop asking and start listening.

    When things are a mess, I always wonder if I'm the one making the mess but I take comfort knowing I'm a loved Child of God and He is with me through it, whether it's my fault or a much-needed step in my growth. Thank God each season doesn't last forever, and we do get a little benefit of hindsight at times--mostly a look back at how God blessed us through what looked like anything but a blessing at the time.

    Thanks Susie!
    PS I dumped a spam comment this morning. Ugh - this is the second day in a row.

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  2. This is why I think it's so important to have that personal connection to God and know how to hear his voice. It can be hard to tell when to give up and when to press on.

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  3. I think Joseph's story is so inspiring. It's one of my favorites in the Bible. I'm glad you posted this, Susie. And I totally agree with Dina.

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  4. Thanks for taking care of the spam, Deb. Ugh, we've been hit hard lately!

    Since we are sinful, we often trudge through the consequences of our actions. You are so right: God is there to walk with us no matter what we've done or how undeserving of His grace we are. Thank God for His mercy and grace!

    I love when I can look back and say, oh that's why this happened. But there are a few things in my past which I cannot understand (this side of heaven) why they occurred.

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  5. You're so right, Dina. We have to know our Shepherd's voice, don't we?

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  6. Joseph's story is so inspiring, Suzie. And boy does it foreshadow Jesus' suffering, too. I'd never thought about it before, but my devotional reading lately has revealed some things to me. The Bible is so beautiful in how it all fits together!

    And Joseph never complained, according to Bible record. Astounding. I am such a whiner!

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  7. Some of my own struggles in the last couple of years have really had me examining that "if I'm good enough, God will bless me" mindset.
    Nowadays I'm just trying to focus on God loving me no matter what, taking myself and what I can do to "earn" God's benefits out of the equation entirely.
    Trusting God when things AREN'T going the way you want/believed/prayed for them to go is one of the hardest things we can do, I think. But no one said faith would be easy, either.
    Great post, Susie. I needed it.

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  8. "Trusting God when things AREN'T going the way you want/believed/prayed for them to go is one of the hardest things we can do, I think."

    Amen, Niki. That's one reason I enjoy reading biographies of Christians. Many heroes of faith didn't have comfortable, easy, lives. They suffered, and praised God through the suffering.

    And you're right. Nowhere in Scripture does it say our lives will be easy or smooth if we follow Christ. But it does promise He's with us and redeems us and can use our "stuff" for good.

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  9. I love Joseph's story. I even wrote a fantasy-adventure based on it, because I wanted my hero to be able to look back an see that everything the bad guys meant for evil, God meant for good. And I REALLY put him through some awful trials.

    I guess it comforts me to see that it's all eventually part of the plan.

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  10. Cool-sounding story, DeAnna! "It's all part of the plan..." I love it.

    Amazing to think that someday we'll look back and say, "Ah, so that's why this happened," or "God, You were so close to me through that!"

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  12. This was a well thought out post, Susie. We've gone through the buying and selling process several times, but we've never had to face the challenges you have. I would have been devastated.

    Thank you so much for sharing this, Susie.

    As for Joseph's coat, I've always imagined it much like your images - woven on a loom using different colored yarns.

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