Sometime in the 19th century Henry Wadsworth Longfellow penned a poem containing the following, “Into each life some rain must fall, some days must be dark and dreary.” This has become a famous quote, so chances are you recall having heard these words in your life. The meaning is clear, at some time everyone will experience trials, challenges, hard times. We all face losses, whether financial, physical, emotional, relational or all of the above. No one escapes the rain. For the most part we accept this as a reality of life.
It is not the rainy days which challenge me; Joni and I have been facing rainy days and Mondays (The Carpenter’s) together for years. No, it isn’t the rain, it’s the avalanches! I’m referring to the feeling of suddenly having a wave of snow, weighing tons, careening into you, beating, battering, tearing, smashing, suffocating you, bringing confusion and complete loss of orientation. Abruptly there is complete silence, an erie silence. Slowly, as your senses return, you realize what has happened and your mind kicks into action. The adrenalin rush begins, shock keeps any pain at bay for the moment. Now is when the struggle for survival begins.
“Then they grabbed him, and threw him into the cistern. Now the cistern was empty; there was no water in it. So when the Ishmaelites, who were Midianite traders, came by, Joseph’s brothers pulled him out of the cistern and sold him to them for twenty pieces of silver. And the traders took him to Egypt.” Genesis 37:24, 28 NLT
I am sure if you were to ask Joseph whether this felt like some rain falling in his life, his response would be an emphatic negative. It was not a minor inconvenience!
There is an important lesson in this; we cannot judge the impact of another’s life experiences. A person’s rainstorm belongs to them. Their storm is not yours or mine, Their storm is not subject to our comparisons; they are not up for judging for any reason. The words in the bible are Judge not. It does not say, judge not unless… There is a reason for this. We are just not qualified to judge anyone’s life.
All our carefully gathered information is very likely less than 3% of the actual truth. The only One who is qualified to judge, who has every tiny piece of the picture, has not chosen to delegate to us that most important of His responsibilities. Remember, God is all about bringing as many of His children home as possible, and He will do whatever He needs to accomplish His goal.
“Meanwhile the Midianites had sold him in Egypt to Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, the captain of the guard.” Genesis 37:36 RSV
Joseph’s rainstorm increased in intensity. Somehow I doubt Joseph saw this as one of the character builders we all get to experience. Instead, Joseph was probably still in shock as he realized he would never again see his family, home, and especially his father whom he loved so much. All around him was confusion, noise, strange sounds, languages, strange looking people, perhaps evil looking people. The 17 year old was faced with one of the greatest decisions of his young life, and Joseph chose to honor God. Joseph chose integrity; he chose to do his very best for his new master. And because he made this decision, God blessed him abundantly. The blessings were so obvious even Potiphar noticed and turned the complete managing of all he possessed to Joseph. Potiphar knew God was with Joseph, that this was no ordinary young man.
Remember we began with, “Into each life some rain must fall?” Well, Joseph had made it through the rainstorm and was about to meet the avalanche head-on. Make no mistake, it’s not a pretty sight.
Scripture reveals Joseph was a handsome, well built man who caught the eye of his master’s wife. Over and over she sought to seduce him, again and again he refused. Joseph was a man of integrity. He told the mistress he would not sin against his master or his God. Joseph had been with Potiphar for nearly 10 years. With Joseph as his manager, Potiphar had become extremely wealthy. He had also come to know Joseph quite well. Potiphar knew very well what kind of man Joseph was and what Joseph was capable of doing.
Potiphar’s wife, however, would not give up! The more Joseph resisted, the harder she worked to allure and attract him. Joseph constantly planned never to be left alone with this seductively conniving woman. Unfortunately a day came when she found him alone. This time she determined she would not be denied. She pressed him (advanced insistently) and grabbed his shirt. Joseph panicked and ran.
“When she saw that she had his shirt and that he had fled, she began screaming. Soon all the men around the place came running. ‘My husband has brought this Hebrew slave here to insult us!’ she sobbed. ‘He tried to rape me, but I screamed. When he heard my loud cries, he ran and left his shirt behind with me.’ ” Genesis 39:13-15 NLT
Now the avalanche hit with all it’s destructive power slamming Joseph to the ground. Can you hear him crying out to God, “Why? Why has this happened? God, I’ve done everything You asked. I’ve served this master with honor and integrity!” Potiphar had more wealth than he knew was possible, and all because of Joseph! “God, what is going on? How can you allow this to happen? Why have You deserted me?”
As noted before, Joseph doesn’t know the rest of the story. We do! We know God has an amazing, incredible plan beyond Joseph’s wildest dreams! But at this moment in his life, all he knows is when Potiphar comes home he will forfeit his life for something he did not do.
So, this is where I honor my promise to be as honest, vulnerable, and transparent as possible. It is not always something I rush to do, however, I believe it is important to mentor as best as I can. I have a hard time believing God could have a “Dream Plan” for me like He had for Joseph. It really doesn’t matter if His plan for me is as grand as for Joseph.
The truth is I have always struggled to believe I had any purpose… ever. This has been a life long struggle and for several years there really was some improvement. Then I became sick, very sick. I discovered there were those who were less than appreciative of my ministry, who acted to move me from their sphere, the church they considered their own. These factors, with others, have left me almost too fatigued to fight my feelings of failure, of no particular purpose or value. After years of chronic pain and illness, each day can be a struggle. It is a struggle.
But this is the key, the essential point, I am still here. God is still using me no matter what I think or see or feel. Every day brings new understandings of God’s Grace and how it impacts my life, our lives.
Some of you, just like me, have had or are having or will have an avalanche experience in addition to the rain that falls in to every life. Even in the storms and avalanches so painfully challenging we doubt our worth, our ability to survive, God IS always with us.
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord you God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9
“Fear not for I am with you; be not dismayed for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10
“For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, not height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39
[contact-form-7 404 "Not Found"]