December 16th, 2019

When it’s not Your Fault (Thriving in Hard Times Week 2)

My bags were packed by December 3 to fly to Texas the following morning. For months I’d been planning my trip. The week was bound to be filled with laughter and joy as I was spending time with some of my favorite people. After a stressful month filled with increasing pain and talk of cancer, I NEEDED this trip. And nothing, I determined, would stop me from taking it.

Except for a collapsed lung.

When the doctor who performed my first biopsy called the morning of December 3rd and said he hadn’t got enough of a sample, I told him I’d do whatever was needed to get a second biopsy done before I left town. He assured me the doctor in Riverside was experienced and would get enough of a sample. The doctor did get enough of a sample, but his needle also went a little too far and pierced my lung. Not only did I spend the next two days in the hospital but I had two chest tubes put in. That is, without a doubt, the worst pain I have ever endured. My husband stood by my side during the placement of the second tube. Afterward, he told me he almost passed out from seeing me in such pain.

And I did nothing to cause it.

Maybe you know the feeling. Not of chest tubes (I hope!), but of suffering due to no fault of your own. A car accident, an illness, being persecuted, even the death of a loved one. 2019 has held several injustices for my family. The first was my husband losing his job because of the lies of others in April. Next, the death of my father in July due to inadequate care in the hospital. And now, this. Pain. Suffering. Two days would have been bad enough but I got a cold while in the hospital. I’m going on ten days of feeling awful. I can’t cross the room without feeling winded. Coughing still hurts my abs and chest. All because of the slip up of a doctor.

God is sovereign, I have mumbled to myself more times than I can count in the past eight months. But there’s been pain, frustration, even anger because it all seems so wrong.

Here’s the truth that sometimes we gloss over: IT IS WRONG. So very wrong.

What we need to remember as Christians is a situation being wrong or bad doesn’t mean God is wrong or bad. He is still sovereign. He still loves us. But we live in a fallen world. You can open your Bible to the book of Genesis to see the truth in this. God pours His love out upon His people. Some worship Him, some lie, deceive, steal, and even kill. The epitome of a person enduring one wrong after another against them? Joseph.

Joseph’s drama begins in chapter 37 of Genesis with a dream and a band of jealous brothers. Ten of them, to be exact. Yes, Joseph was their father’s favorite. Yes, the retelling of his dream could have been seen as bragging. But they plotted to kill him…until Reuben grows a conscience and recommends they sell him as a slave instead. For two decades, through Genesis 39-41, Joseph experiences highs and lows. He is raised to a higher status only to be falsely accused and imprisoned.

But God was there.

He was with Joseph in the cistern, He was with him on the auction block. He was with him in Potiphar’s household, in the prison, and in Pharaoh’s presence. You know, not only because of the blessings that come but because Joseph continues to do what is right. He doesn’t sin against God—he follows Him. Twenty years is a long time to weather the storm. It’s a long time to continue to believe that God is good, even in the dark dungeon. I’ll be honest, after eight months I’m ready for some sunshine. I’m anxious for the blessings to flow. I thought the rainbow at the end of this long road was benign test results…until my doctor ordered a CT scan from my neck to my waist “just to make sure we didn’t miss anything.” And now the wait begins again.

So, what does Joseph’s perseverance mean to us? Hebrews 13:6-8 tells us:

“So we can say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me?’ Remember your leaders who taught you the word of God. Think of all the good that has come from their lives, and follow the example of their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.”

I encourage you to read Genesis 37, 39-45 and take note not only of the problems Joseph faces but of how God saves him. God is there, time and time again, working things out not only for Joseph’s good, but for Joseph’s entire family.  As Joseph says to his brothers when he, at last, reveals his identity:

“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. This famine that has ravaged the land for two years will last five more years, and there will be neither plowing nor harvesting. God has sent me ahead of you to keep you and your families alive and to preserve many survivors. So it was God who sent me here, not you! And he is the one who made me an adviser to Pharaoh—the manager of his entire palace and the governor of all Egypt.” (Genesis 45:5-8 NLT)

Friend, I don’t know what you’re struggling with. I don’t know how you’ve been hurt or how you feel wronged. But I know our God is the same God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. I know He will right every wrong and at the end of it all, He has salvation in mind. Joseph being sold into slavery positioned him to save the nation of Israel from a terrible famine. Never think for a minute that your pain, your hardships, are wasted. God wants to use you as a witness to bring others closer to Him. He wants His glory to shine through the trials in your life. For that to happen, you need to continue to obey God. You need to place your trust and faith in Him and His plan. As you do, He will provide in every circumstance. It may not be how you expect Him to, or even want Him to, but it will be in abundance.

Money has been tight since my husband lost his job, but every month God provides for our needs. Yes, the list of needs is growing, yet God remains faithful to us as we remain faithful to Him. We prayed for the salvation of those who persecuted my husband. Perhaps we’re the only people who prayed for their salvation. We also continue to believe God will open a bigger door, a better door, for Jeff’s career in coffee.

I hate that my father is gone, but in the month leading up to his death, I watched him draw closer to God. Then at his memorial, I had the opportunity to share the gospel with hundreds of our family and friends.

My health issues? Well, I still don’t understand what’s going on or why my trip to Texas needed to be high-jacked by a collapsed lung. But I pray I was a witness to those I interacted with in the hospital. I’m thankful for the love of friends and our church family who have offered prayers and help. And every day I pray for His glory, keeping my eyes wide open so I don’t miss it. I’m reminded now more than ever that God literally gives me the breath in my lungs. That is something I never want to take for granted. Everything I have—my family, my health, my possessions—is a gift from God offered to me by His grace. I can’t earn His blessings.

We would be wise to remember Job’s comment to his wife in Job 2:10: …“Should we accept only good things from the hand of God and never anything bad?”

In all circumstances, my friend, choose to seek God. Choose to obey Him. Choose to trust Him. You are not the victim—you are victorious in Christ Jesus our Lord. It’s time to live that way.
What hardship is the Lord seeing you through? How does the story of Joseph offer encouragement or insight into your struggles? Pray about what God would have you do in the waiting, who He wants you to witness to, how you can be a blessing to others. Then get busy about His work as you wait for His glory.

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