My favorite roller coaster is the Millennium Force at Cedar Point in Ohio. The ride gives you a drop of 300 feet and a speed up to 93mph. It’s a thrill! That’s really all I want to ride when I go there.
I’m going to warn you ahead of time, this blogpost is written like you are on a roller coaster. I thought about changing it, but then realized that sometimes life feels like it’s going up and down at rapid speeds.
We are plugging along in life and all of a sudden we experience a 300 foot drop into grief, loss, depression, sickness or debt. Yes, the physical ebbs and flows happen, but the emotional battle that happens after occurs daily as well. There is a standard we hold ourselves to that we lose and then we get over it, never to be haunted by it again. It’s a sign of strength to move on quickly. But I sometimes feel like there is a tug-of-war going on inside my head. I want to have hope and joy one moment, but then I just want to be sad and angry the next. I’m constantly going back and forth.
So, this blog reads like the roller coaster that’s happening in my head. There is still plenty of good content and tips though, so read on.
S – Scripture: Genesis 43-45
- 43:23 – “‘Relax. Don’t be afraid,’ the household manager told them. ‘Your God, the God of your father, must have put this treasure into your sacks. I know I received your payment.’ Then he released Simeon and brought him out to them.”
- 43:30 – “Then Joseph hurried from the room because he was overcome with emotion for his brother. He went into his private room, where he broke down and wept.”
- 45:3-5 – “‘I am Joseph!’ he said to his brothers. ‘Is my father still alive?’ But his brothers were speechless! They were stunned to realize that Joseph was standing there in front of them. ‘Please, come closer,’ he said to them. So they came closer. And he said again, ‘I am Joseph, your brother, whom you sold into slavery in Egypt. But don’t be upset, and don’t be angry with yourselves for selling me to this place. It was God who sent me here ahead of you to preserve your lives.'”
- 45:18-20 – “‘Then get your father and all of your families, and return here to me. I will give you the very best land in Egypt, and you will eat from the best that the land produces.’ Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, ‘Tell your brothers, ‘Take wagons from the land of Egypt to carry your little children and your wives, and bring your father here. Don’t worry about your personal belongings, for the best of all the land of Egypt is yours.'”
O – Observation:
- Joseph must have paid for the food given to the brothers when he sent them away with their own coins.
- Overcome with emotion again, Joseph breaks down and weeps. All that has come to pass in his life has been for this purpose. His patience and perseverance have paid off. What his brothers meant for harm, God used for good.
- God’s purposes seem to take bumpy and odd paths. When taken though, amazing miracles happen and lives are changed.
- Pharaoh provides the best that the land can offer to Joseph’s family when the move from Canaan to Egypt.
A – Application:
“Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.” James 1:3-4
“God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.” James 1:12
“We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love. When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners.” Romans 5:3-6
TRIAL/TEMPTATION > OPPORTUNITY FOR JOY > ENDURANCE GROWS > CHARACTER STRENGTHENS > CONFIDENCE/HOPE IN SALVATION > COMPLETE/PERFECT > RECEIVE THE CROWN OF LIFE
You are absolutely correct in thinking that God has a plan and purpose for my pain. But I don’t want to hear it. It’s true that good can come from this someday. But I don’t want to hear that either. The Bible says to find joy in the trial. That’s the last thing I want to hear.
I want to be angry and sad and depressed. I want my old life, not this. I want my job, spouse, child, home, relationship, parent, or whatever back. I don’t want to dig deeper into it with God. I can’t. I don’t want it explained to me. I want to just be.
This, I feel, is a common commentary in the grieving process. It’s at least what I felt and have heard from others as well. The thoughts of joy and hope were the last things on my mind. But then, over time, it did eventually change. I had accepted that what I wanted wasn’t going to happen like I thought. My heart came to terms with the “new normal” that I had to rebuild.
With time, hope did come back and I found ways to have joy and goodness again. But it wasn’t immediate or easy. I had to endure the grief to get to the joy. The baby steps to crawl out of the darkness and into the fresh air of hope were taxing, but freeing with each one. I reached to open air and breathed in as if it was the first time. The loss was still there, but hope had intervened and surrounded me.
Life beyond grief requires us to put on a hard hat and tool belt and get to work. It means mending and stitching pieces of our life back together. The beauty in this is that we are not alone and don’t need to do all of the work. The Architect is at work. The Healer and Tailor guide the thread and needle. Each morning that we get out of bed, get dressed, eat breakfast, and take physical steps, we allow God to keep moving and working in us too.
The reward? A stronger and better character, lasting endurance, confidence in our salvation, completion and perfection.
I want to be the best that I can be for God’s purpose. I want to be able to press on in faith to reach the goals he has for me. I want it to be so obvious that it is by God’s salvation and grace that I am standing tall after my trials. I want to be perfect and complete, not missing anything, when I stand before God.
I don’t think I cared so much about these things when grief and loss initially hit. I didn’t want to carry on with this new purpose. I didn’t want this baggage. It’s ugly and burdensome. Why couldn’t the plan have gone on without the grief? Couldn’t my purpose be found another way? It’s like I’ve been shot out of a cannon in a direction I don’t want to go but have to figure out how to make life work.
I still have days like this, but less often than before. I’ve been able to embrace an new life and new hope. A lot of it has to do with the James 1:12 verse.
As a believer in Christ, we have the promise of eternal life and a crown. One day, the pain, sorrow, and tears will all pass away. Eternal joy is there for us when we get to Heaven. Remembering that in my trials and temptations I still have Jesus is sometimes all I need to look beyond.
I’m sure when Joseph was young and had those dreams of his family bowing down to him, he was on his high horse. He probably thought, this is going to be great! I’m awesome! Life is so good!
The path to getting there, however, with the abandonment, loss, chains, and grief, was maybe not as straight-forward as he had hoped. But Joseph’s line after all of the emotions:
“It was God who sent me here ahead of you to preserve your lives.” Genesis 45:5
I would like to get to the end of my life and say, “It was God who sent me here.” It was God who brought me through the trials for this purpose. It was by God’s grace and strength and hope that I have achieved what I have for his glory. I anticipate being an emotional mess like Joseph when that day comes.
Grief is hard. Trials are rough. Temptations are constant. But God is our rock. He is our fortress. And he is never-changing and always loving. Allow yourself time to go through all of the emotions attached to whatever circumstance you are in. Then choose God and he will lead you to joy, character, confidence, and purpose. New and good.
P – Prayer:
God, I desire that you will take all of the loss, grief, pain, and trials and make them into something beautiful. I pray that it wasn’t in vain. I pray that I can look back and say, “It was God who sent me here. It was God who carried my down this path. It was God who brought me through.” I hope lives can be changed because the trajectory of my life changed. You are so good and your purposes are good. Give me strength to endure for your glory.
I pray for those going through a grieving period, Lord. Would you give them hope today? Would you give them grace to be in their emotions, but then the strength to take a step towards you and the new and beautiful life you have for them?
Forgive me for the times I have doubted you and your goodness. Continue to shape me into the person that will do the purposes you need done on this earth. Amen.