Suffer Well, Steward Well
About a week before my husband passed away, I was praying and meditating on the story of Joseph. I was thinking about how difficult it must have been for Joseph, a young man, to dream a dream from the Lord that he would be honored by his family and in a place of prominence, only to be betrayed by his brothers, thrown into a pit, and sold into slavery, right after.
I was thinking that being sold into slavery by his brothers was in stark contrast to the dream Joseph had, was excited about, and looking forward to. I thought about the fact that his test did not end there, for he would spend the next 13 years in such a test, be tempted and forgotten. Yet he would remain integral, full of faith, and function in his gift the whole time.
What REALLY got me was the fact that at the end, once given the opportunity to interpret Pharaoh's dream, he knows exactly what to do. After all his suffering, even the confusion he must have experienced wondering, "How long am I going to be in this test? What is happening in my life?" he rises to the occassion, uses his gift, and then stewards the responsibility given to him to carry out the prophetic insight given in the dream. He then uses his influence to save his brothers from the famine and then completely forgives them.
As I pondered this, I was so impressed.I thought, "Who does that?" He could have grown cold after waiting all those years. He could have been bitter, depressed, angry, disoriented, hopeless, or diminished in some way. However, he remained intact in his heart, faith, hope, and ability to operate in the way God wanted him to.
The final thought I had as I pondered this was, "Yes. And God KNEW he would do that. That is why he allowed that particular man to be the one to experience all of that. God trusted Joseph to suffer well, steward well, and that he would do the right things with the opportunity given. That he would never turn his back on God and would discern in the end what was going on and be able to be used as a great deliverer."
I shared these insights with my husband later in the day. I had barely explained it, when he shook his head in agreement and said, "Have you tried my servant, Job?" I hollered, "YES!" and I got so excited because I knew he got my point right away.
These insights and this conversation replayed in my mind on October 18th as I stood in the emergency room. I had news about my husband from a doctor that I did not want to recieve. I had prayed for hours that God would come in and say the opposite. I knew God was able to cause a different outcome. That didn't happen. Still, this conversation about Joseph came back up in my heart and mind.
I could see God moving almost immediately from that moment and he has continued to move over the past 16 days in ways that are unimaginable and mighty on my and my children's behalf. The love and support from so many, near and far is a constant reminder to me that God is still in control and that like he did for Joseph and for Job in the bible, He has a plan for me.
Like them, I am not all the way clear on what it is. As they probably felt, it seems like it would be great if God just made it plain any minute now. Still, I embrace the truth that if God allowed me to go through something, he trusts me with it. He trusts I can walk through this fire that I cannot circumvent and remain intact. Not perfect, not without pain, but somehow stronger and better inspite of it all. I believe that too.