I have been thinking a lot about Joseph this week as I consider my current season.
I wonder what Joseph was thinking as his brothers grabbed him, stripped him, picked him up, and threw him into the pit (Genesis 37:23-24).
I wonder what Joseph was thinking as he gazed up, helpless to help himself and at the complete mercy of his brothers’ anger.
I wonder what Joseph was thinking when they lifted him out of the pit … only to sell him to slave traders (Genesis 37:28).
And in thinking of this beginning of his story, I think I know what Joseph was thinking, feeling, and wondering.
God, what are You doing?
Hey God. It’s me, Joseph. You realize that I am Jacob’s son, right? The child You finally blessed his beloved Rachel with. I am the son of Jacob’s heart and the source of Jacob’s pride.
So … why am I standing here in this pit?
Am I going to die here, scared and alone? Am I never going to see my father again? How long will I be down here before someone finds me? Will they find me alive … or not?
God, why am I here?
God, what are You doing?
I know You are there. My father talks about You all the time. How You have been with him through his villainous youth, where he tricked his brother and wound up running for his life. How You helped him learn to trust You and be a man of faith while he was living under his deceitful father-in-law. How You honored his progress by helping him reconcile with his brother. How all of this taught him to be faithful to and always believe in You.
Are You trying to teach me something?
Are You trying to change something about me?
Are You mad at me about something?
Because I think we could have had a conversation about me without this pit. I (probably) would have listened to You. So, God, why the pit?
I get it, Joseph. Totally. I hear your confusion and consternation. I understand your pain and perplexity. I see your betrayal and bullying by those you thought cared about you.
I get it, Joseph, because I too am in the pit. Asking the same questions. Facing the same confusion. Wondering what I could have done differently.
I recently had a relationship that did not work out. It ended just as well as yours with your brothers. Everyone was content to push me into the pit and walk away. No salvation. No forgiveness. No redemption. No hope.
And despite the relationship they all claimed we had, they all threw their hands up and walked away. Blaming me for all the problems they said were all in my vivid – and completely vain – imagination. And I looked up and found myself alone.
No “are you OK?”
No “I am sorry.”
No “I am still your friend.”
Silence. Shunning. Stranded.
Alone. And wondering – just as you, Joseph – God, what are You doing?
Why did it implode?
How did it come to this dramatic end?
Who is ultimately to blame … if we have to assign blame?
When did my heart start to question?
What was the real problem?
Where did things start to fall off the rails?
Was I wrong in my perspective that it wasn’t quite right?
Or … was I right? Was I right in feeling that what looked good and was convenient was not Your best for us – and we were robbing ourselves of the chance to experience Your best?
Joseph, I too keep asking myself questions. Just like I know you were as you stared up from the pit. I believe you were praying, asking what you needed to do to get through this difficult time and desperate moment … to stay calm and hope for the best while preparing yourself for the worst. I believe you were wondering what you could have done differently, even if it wasn’t true to who you were, to have a better outcome (even if it meant you would not be happy). I believe you questioned whether you should have been so vocal about your dreams and your gifts and instead just kept your doubts and ideas to yourself (to keep the peace).
I know, Joseph. Because I am asking myself the same questions.
And I hope that you did the same thing I am doing – trusting God. Sure, you asked “God, what are You doing?” and so am I. But I hope you trusted the answer was “something good for you”.
Something necessary to separate you from bad influences of favoritism and pride.
Something necessary to teach you that you need to trust Me completely.
Something necessary to prepare you for the big future I have planned.
And the pit is the beginning of a hard season, where things will not be easy and you will probably question My purposes daily. But there is going to be an amazing climax to your story, and I need the pit and what comes after it to prepare you for it.
And Joseph, God had an amazing story – and an incredible miracle – to do through you. Because it seems you never lost faith. Through all the years, which started with the pit, you trusted God to get you through today and into tomorrow. And you hoped with everything in you for a better tomorrow. Eventually, God honored your faith by allowing you to see – and save – your family again. And you were able to forgive them, completely, because you knew I had been with you and had a big purpose for your life.
Joseph, I want the same story. I want to look back on this season and say I trusted God so completely that I knew He was going to redeem the bad moments and remind me of the good ones. I want to say that though things seemed dark and dire and distressing I knew God was with me and for me and was setting me up for something amazing in the future. And I want the incredible testimony that comes on the other side of asking “God, what are You doing?” when we refuse to let go of our faith.
Loving Father, please help me remember the pit can be the beginning of something incredible that You are doing. Help me to hold onto my faith and keep my focus on You while things feel painful, perplexing, and without purpose. Help me to remember that You are good and You always have a good plan for my life. Thank You for loving me so much that You never give up on me … and for Your faith that I can survive – and eventually thrive – because of the pit. In Jesus’ almighty name. AMEN!
Marie Fremin. 2/22/20