by Anita Miles
Deep calleth unto deep at the noise of thy waterspouts: all thy waves and thy billows are gone over me.
Over the past several weeks, I’ve spent some time studying the life of Joseph. At the mention of his name, if asked, most would define him by one of his most famous attributes and call him “the Dreamer.” However, it was his dreams, or namely his courage to repeat them out loud that contributed to some of his greatest trials. You have to wonder... if he would have just kept those first dreams about his brothers and his mother and father bowing to him under wraps, could he have saved himself quite a bit of pain and heartache? I know there were other factors that contributed to his brothers’ dislike of him - namely their father’s favoritism. But you KNOW those dreams contributed exponentially to the bitterness and hatred his brothers had towards him. It was their anger and hostility toward him that caused him to first be thrown into the pit and sold by the people who should have been in his corner. Just reading superficially about Joseph, it seems like he just couldn’t seem to get his bearings. Every other curve in his road of life threw him another tumble! Or so it seems…
But if you look at the life of Joseph from the end to the beginning, you see an entirely different picture than a superficial story that’s easy to flip through in a child’s storybook. It’s not about brothers that hated him. It’s not about being sold into slavery. It’s not about being at Pharoah’s house. It’s not about being lied on and chased by Pharoah’s wife. It’s not about being imprisoned, betrayed, and forgotten by the people he helped. I recently said to the ladies that I have the privilege of teaching every Sunday - “Joseph was the epitome of the question of why do bad things happen to good people?” Looking forward at a glance, the poor guy couldn’t catch a break! But somehow in every one of those circumstances, God found ways to promote him and build Joseph’s character to use him in ways that absolutely no one saw coming! Externally at a glance, it’s hard to see how in the world any of this could end well. But at the completion of it, the inner workings of the roller coaster of Joseph’s life would be used for the greater good - having a profound impact that is still talked about this many generations in history later.
Who in the world would have ever dreamed that after all of the ups and downs in the life of Joseph that he would be the man single handedly responsible for sparing the lives of an entire nation AND his family during a famine? All because of a dream. You can rest assured, there was a band of brothers stuck in a field tending some sheep who never imagined it!
Looking backwards - from the book of Hebrews concerning Joseph - I have always LOVED the thing that his faith was recorded for. It was his constant forward looking faith that commanded his children to take his bones out of Egypt into the Land of Promise when they would finally get to leave. He was always looking forward and no matter what - he always had his eyes on God for his deliverance.
I can’t help but think if we had the faith of Joseph, how different our lives would be. It’s so easy to get stuck in the rut of the here and now! Familiarity seems so comfortable! But what if God is calling us to be dreamers...to see further than what the present circumstances hold. I’ve seen an unbelievable amount of disappointment and devastation in the past year. I’ve seen prayers that didn’t get answered - even when lives were hanging in the balance. But sandwiched in the middle of all the heartbreak and pain - I’ve watched God do some AMAZING things that I never imagined or saw coming! So I’m challenged in the midst of what seems like a world of chaos to ask myself hard questions. Questions that have the potential to grow stronger roots to my experience. Can we handle it if God has to allow some unpleasant circumstances to build our faith so that we will be up to the challenge of something greater? Or will we throw up our hands in frustration and constantly rail at God the constant barrage of questions of why we have to suffer for a season?
I love this piece by A.Z. Tozer, “It is doubtful whether God can bless a man greatly until He has hurt him deeply. God actually rises up storms of conflict in relationships at times in order to accomplish that deeper work in our character. We cannot love our enemies in our own strength. This is graduate - level grace. Are you willing to enter this school? Are you willing to take the test? If you pass, you can expect to be elevated to a new level in the Kingdom. For He brings us through these tests as preparation for greater use in the Kingdom. You must pass the test first.”
And without a shadow of a doubt, Joseph passed the test. It was through the workings of his tribulations that he learned the faithfulness of God and developed the unmovable conviction that the Almighty was worth trusting.
We’re living in a shallow age. We don’t like pain. We like results quickly. How many times have we gotten a little frustrated at the lack of good service lately because of the absence of enough manpower in the place we sought services? When we are anxious and troubled, we search diligently for safe zones. We want peace for our children even more than ourselves. But sometimes God takes a lifetime of trouble to bring us to our full potential. Sometimes people we love and trust won’t always be able to handle the dream with us. Some may even completely betray us. Are we up for the challenge?
God is looking for a generation of dreamers. The last days are up on us and we need some strong men with dreams and vision. We need some strong women / wives to stand behind those dreamers. As a couple, my husband and I have stepped out into the unfamiliar on a dream, a vision, and a prayer. And God has been more than faithful to us! As a mother, I would love to raise a young man of Joseph’s character - but I know there is a price to pay for that! Am I willing? It’s my decision to choose between the comfortable rut or the school of grace that God is offering to be useful for the furtherance of His kingdom.
Is God calling you into something that is bigger than you feel? Are you willing to go through what it may take to be the person of character Joseph fought his entire life for to fulfill that dream? I can’t answer those questions for anyone but me.
Just some food for thought on this Thursday…