I’ve come to a place where I try not to ask, Why, God? Although it’s not wrong, I find that I can place my heart in that question and constantly try to find solutions for it—I depend on it as a means to help me get through my hard. Even if I knew one reason why, usually God is working in a thousand ways so I wouldn’t have the full picture anyway. And yet…
There is purpose in our pain and hard, though it may remain a mystery. If I cannot answer the whys, I can have peace in knowing there is purpose. Our church is preaching through Genesis and came to Joseph. It struck me how much purpose there was in all of the pits and downfalls in Joseph’s life.
Although we know how his story ends, Joseph did not. Joseph had to live that difficult and miserable story, choosing whether or not to trust God. God was going to use Joseph in big ways: Joseph would single-handedly save Egypt from famine and preserve the line of Abraham, thus preserving the line of David, of which Jesus would ultimately be born! But Joseph couldn’t have known that when he was suffering and struggling.
Then Midianite traders passed by. And they drew Joseph up and lifted him out of the pit, and sold him to the Ishmaelites for twenty shekels of silver. They took Joseph to Egypt. 38:28
Joseph’s brothers almost killed him and instead sold him to a foreign people. But…
God was leading Joseph into Egypt toward His greater purpose.
Now Joseph had been brought down to Egypt, and Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, the captain of the guard, an Egyptian, had bought him from the Ishmaelities who had brought him down there. 39:1
Joseph was sold as a lowly slave. But…
God was leading Joseph closer to Pharaoh toward His greater purpose.
And Joseph’s master took him and put him into the prison, the place where the king’s prisoners were confined, and he was there in prison. 39:21
Joseph was then falsely accused and sent to prison, a special one where the king’s prisoners were confined. But…
God was leading Joseph toward His greater purpose.
Then Pharaoh sent and called Joseph, and they quickly brought him out of the pit…41:14
As the story goes, after waiting in jail a couple years, Joseph came out and was freed.
Then Pharaoh said…You shall be over my house, and all my people shall order themselves as you command… 41:40
In the end, Joseph became prince over the land, was reunited with his family, and ultimately saved the lineage of Christ. There was purpose in his brothers’ horrid betrayal, his enslavement, his going to Potiphar’s house and being falsely accused of a crime, and his being jailed in the special prison!
But when I place myself in Joseph’s story, I don’t think I would be able to see any purpose in these things. I would try to figure out what God is teaching me or how I could convince myself that life won’t always be like this. Those aren’t necessarily bad things, but they can distract me from trusting God in those hardest moments. They take my eyes of God, our God who promises that everything is purposed for good and everything will someday be redeemed. And I know that my hope lies not in understanding the whys or in understanding God’s purposes, but in God Himself.
What encourages me most about these snippets of Joseph’s life is that there was hidden purpose. God was bringing Joseph along a specific path that Joseph couldn’t have ever imagined. And God is bringing me along a specific path that I can’t imagine. The question is whether or not I will trust Him along that path.
We all have a specific path God is bringing us along—paths lined with purpose. Although it sometimes doesn’t feel like it. I have a lot of reasons I think I shouldn’t be where I am or I shouldn’t be facing the things I’m facing, but God is in charge and He is trustworthy. I can trust that God has purpose. Whether that purpose be in a big, earth-shattering way, or in a small ripple of a wave, let it all be for His kingdom. In this, I can rest and let all my whys be unanswered; I can put my trust in God.
What are the parts of your story that you are struggling to trust to God? In what ways do you struggle to believe that God could possibly have purpose? Do you truly believe that God is trustworthy and is working out redemption in our stories? How can you encourage someone else who is struggling to trust God in their current season?