My heart is burdened for friends who are going through tragedies, depression and divorce but it was a text from a dear friend with shocking news of a recent murder that had me crying out to God in prayer. At first, all I could manage to get out was, “Jesus… Jesus… Jesus… Jesus… Jesus.”
Friend, there is power in his name—the name above all names.
As much as I hurt for my precious friends and their families, the reality is that life is full of adversity. It’s unavoidable. We’ll all go through difficulties from time to time. How do you get through a major life’s blow? The loss of a job, an unexpected diagnosis, or the death of a loved one? A complicated pregnancy, a child’s rebellion or a betrayal by a close friend?
I’m reminded of the story of Joseph. Joseph had a dream from God at seventeen, but immediately (after blabbing about how his brothers would one day bow down to him) he was despised and betrayed by his own flesh and blood and sold as a slave. And if that wasn’t bad enough, years later he ended up in prison after being falsely accused of rape. Didn’t look like the dream was playing out at all for Joseph.
What about you? Do you have God-given dream that seems out of reach? Like a dog chasing a laser light, as soon as you arrive at what appears to be your moment, everything pounces just out of reach?
Oh, I may be just preaching to myself and that’s okay. I sure need to be reminded, but there’s a reason for the wait. There’s a reason God gives you a dream. You need it to sustain you in times of hardship. God doesn’t give a dream and then bam—here it is. Not usually the way he works. He has a reason for the dream. He gives you a dream long before it manifests so he can prepare you.
The dream comes before.
Like a woman in childbirth presses past the pain because a precious gift waits on the other side, your dream comes to give you vision and a focal point to press past the obstacles that stand in your way.
But that’s not all.
Just like hardship prepared Joseph for greatness, hardship prepares you for greatness.
God was preparing Joseph to be second in command in all of Egypt, but his equipping involved learning how to serve even when life was unfair. God’s plan for him involved saving his world from starvation. The thirteen years between his dream and destiny prepared him. Adversity strengthened him to trust God. Hard times gave him wisdom and experience managing conflict and calamity.
Finally he was ready. Ready for the promotion and in one divinely appointed day, Joseph was released from the bondage of prison and seated on a throne of wisdom.
From prison to the palace.
From captivity to command.
From criminal to crowned.
That one promotion took thirteen years of preparation.
And it still wasn’t over. God had more in store. Years later, he was reunited with his brothers when they indeed bowed down to him, just like he saw in his dream years earlier.
Friend, don’t give up on your dream. God gave it to you for a reason. To push you through your own season of preparation.
And come face to face with your destiny.
From despair to dominion.
From failure to freedom.
From addicted, abused and afflicted to restored, protected and set apart.
Promises to help you through
God is with you
But while Joseph was there in the prison, the LORD was with him (Gen 39:20-21).
The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit (Psalms 34:18).
He is able
Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26).
Shout for joy, you heavens; rejoice, you earth; burst into song, you mountains! For the LORD comforts his people and will have compassion on his afflicted ones (Isaiah 49:13).
He has a plan
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28).
And he makes beauty out of ashes
…to comfort all who mourn…to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor (Isaiah 61:2-3).
Questions to Ponder:
The wisdom God gave Joseph to interpret Pharaoh’s distressing dream is what promoted him from prison to the palace. Joseph had a plan to endure hardship and famine.
When God revealed to Joseph that there were seven years of plenty coming followed by a seven-year famine, he didn’t just sit back and say, “Oh, well, bummer. Nothing I can do about it. May as well just enjoy today.” Instead, he began preparations. He executed a plan to store up extra grain during the season of plenty. He built a reservoir. He stored up grain during the season of prosperity to maintain provision during the famine.
In fact his plan was so effective, that Egypt was able to provide for the entire world. Without preparation and a plan for the famine, death was certain.
I wonder if the same is true for you. We all have famines of sorts. They may not threaten the entire world, but they may threaten your entire world.
So what can you learn from Joseph’s story? How can you store up grain in your season of plenty?
I know you understand—I’m not talking about literal grain. I’m talking about provision for your promise. Faith that will keep you from going under. Confidence that will sustain you in times of distress.
- What is your grain?
- Have you endured a tragedy?
- Did you barely scrape by or did you see God’s faithfulness in the midst?
- What did you learn?
- Is there anything you would do different next time?
Lord, I pray for my sister and those enduring hard times and difficulties. May she feel you near. May she recognize that you are able, that you care and have a plan to restore. May your grace empower, your faithfulness show up big and your hand extend to show the way. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.