I'm taking a brief break from our studies in Proverbs, because I really feel the Lord nudging me to share something with you. It may be that someone who reads this really needs this encouragement, so here goes!
Do you recall the story of Joseph? Joseph was the youngest son of a doting father, and beginning in chapter 37 of Genesis, you can read his story . . . he was given a gift by his father -- un-asked for, freely given, and a sure jealousy-maker: a coat of many colors. Jacob didn't give it to him because of his hard work, or his amazing talent, or whatever --- just for the love he felt for Joseph. (Personal note here: since one of our kiddos acted in a presentation of "Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat" musical, I've always had even more of a soft spot in my heart for the story!)
Joseph's brothers were intensely, insanely jealous. They were unable to speak kindly to their brother -- insulted him, mocked him. They questioned his dreams (at seventeen, Joseph may not have presented them as tactfully as he could. Just sayin'...) and plotted to kill him. They threw him into a cistern, only dragging him out when the opportunity presented itself to make a little money AND get rid of him, by selling him off to a traveling band of merchants.
If you are not familiar with the rest of the story, I hope that you will turn to that passage and read on, to the end. Along the way, Joseph dealt with some very, very dark days: betrayal, disappointment, slander, imprisonment and more. But long after, when he dealt with his brothers again, he told them, "You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good, to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives." (Genesis 50:20)
All of us go through dark, trying times. They don't happen by chance, or by accident. God uses those times to "grow" us in our imitation of Christ . . . to refine our lives to more closely mirror our Father. He uses the hard and the difficult to teach us to trust what we can't see, more than what we can see.
One of our three children is estranged from our family, and has caused much pain to many of us. You may have a similar situation. Or yours may be difficult health issues, or perhaps financial difficulties. During those dark times, God is at work with a reason and a plan.
In our situation, we have grown in maturity and wisdom, and now have been able to counsel others who are walking this same difficult path . . . God meant it for good.
If we will avoid crying out to God, "Why is this happening to ME?" and instead, ask, "What are You trying to accomplish in my life?" or even, "What is it that You are preparing me for, in my life?" then we can move forward to the good that God has planned.