I don’t mean that He’s making fun of your troubles. In fact, God is with you in the midst of all your dark phases in life. Moreover, even if you can’t see it at the time, God is using your hard times to shape and strengthen you, as He is preparing to shine His light upon those phases to bring you out of them.
One of the greatest examples of His dark-to-light liberations lies in the account of the life of Joseph. He was the second youngest of Jacob’s sons, who would later become the fathers of the twelve tribes of Israel. Joseph was also his Daddy’s favorite son, and his elder brothers hated him for that.
Adding coals to that fire, at the age of seventeen, God sent Joseph a vision, whereby He revealed that Joseph would rule over his brothers in the future. Joseph shared this revelation with his brothers. This infuriated them so much that they sold Joseph off to slave traders – later telling their father that some wild animal killed him.
This was the beginning of a very long dark season in the life of Joseph. He was sold into slavery into the house of Potiphar, an officer of the Pharaoh. Yet even then, God was with him:
The LORD was with Joseph, and he became a successful man… Gn. 39:2 ESV
…the LORD blessed the Egyptian’s house for Joseph’s sake… Gn. 39:5 NKJV
Every task that Potiphar put upon Joseph brought God’s blessing upon his house. Therefore, he put Joseph in charge over his entire household. God shed light into Joseph’s darkness.
Unfortunately, Potiphar’s wife got the hots for Joseph, but he rejected her advances. In retaliation, she accused him of trying to seduce her. Subsequently, Joseph was thrown into prison. Yet the chief jailor had the same observations as Potiphar – seeing that Joseph brought success to whatever he was instructed to do. God was spilling the light for Joseph again:
But the LORD was with Joseph and showed him steadfast love and gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison. Gn. 39:21 ESV
During his incarceration, Joseph encounters two prisoners from the house of Pharaoh, both locked up for offending the Pharaoh. During this encounter, Joseph used his God-given gift to interpret dreams, to reveal the meanings of those that were troubling these prisoners. He tells one that he would be killed by the Pharaoh for his offenses, and informs the other would be released and reinstated to his position. Joseph asks the latter to tell the Pharaoh of his innocence. The freed prisoner forgets for two years, until the Pharaoh had troubling dreams of his own, whereupon he tells Pharaoh about Joseph’s talent.
Joseph was 30 years old.
Joseph accurately interprets Pharaoh’s dreams, which allows for the saving of Egypt from an impending famine. In response, Pharaoh, also seeing the hand of God upon Joseph, makes him second-in-command over all of Egypt. More of God’s light filling Joseph’s darkness…
God has a purpose for everything. The famine hit the surrounding countries, the land of Canaan being one of them. Jacob’s brothers were sent from there to Egypt to buy grain, whereupon they encounter Joseph, this now powerful agent of Pharaoh, and they are frightened to their core. Surprisingly to them, he reveals God’s purposes in him:
“And now do not be distressed or angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life.” Gn. 45:5 ESV
“And God sent me before you to prepare a posterity in the earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance. So now it was not you who sent me here, but God…” Gn. 45:7, 8. NKJV
Furthermore, because of the favor of God, Pharaoh told Joseph to bring his family of seventy Hebrews to live in the abundance of Egypt; and they became the seeds for the future nation of Israel:
“As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good to bring about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. So, do not fear; I will provide for you and your little ones.” Gn. 50:20, 21. ESV
Joseph’s long season of trials and tribulations were reversed – used by God to achieve a far grander purpose for good, both showering His light upon him and making the way for the future of His children.
The first thirty years of Joseph’s life were harrowing, but because of his continuing faith in God despite his adversities, God showered him with love.
Can you relate to Joseph? Have you gone through (or going through) a stage in your life that doesn’t make sense? Are you having trouble seeing the hand of God in your life? Would you like your life to be different? Tough questions.
God never said that life would be easy. What He said was that we’d have both good seasons and hard ones:
“Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?” Job 2:10 NKJV
In the day of prosperity be joyful, and in the day of adversity, consider: God has made one as well as the other… Eccl. 7:14 ESV
Yet, if you stick with God, no matter how dark your trials, God has a better endgame:
For I know the thoughts I think towards you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Jer. 29:11 NKJV
God is truthful, faithful and He wants to lovingly lead you into a wondrous future. Why then does He allow the dark phases in our lives?
One reason is that it brings you closer to Him. I believe that if you suffer in life, God wants you to change – back into whom God created you to be before the world stomped all over you.
He wants you to understand the seriousness of your choices and the consequences that they bring. It’s up to you to choose life or death:
“See, I have set before you today life and prosperity, and death and adversity…” Dt. 30:15 NASB
Your choices good or bad, have consequences. God never gives up on you. He lets you experience the repercussions of your bad ones to build character, faith and strength so that you can turn away from making bad choices in the future:
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let the steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. James 1:2 – 4. ESV
When consequences of bad decisions lead you to make good choices, you are learning the ways of God:
It was good that I was afflicted, that I may learn your statutes. Ps. 119.71 NASB
…He disciplines us for our good, so that we my share His holiness. Heb. 12:10 NASB
When you turn to God, everything changes:
“Yield now and be at peace with Him; thereby good will come to you.” Job 22:21 NASB
Other dark moments in life may be no fault of our own, and the ‘why’ of them may seem hard to see; e.g. experiencing a death of an addict in the family who chose not to give up their addiction. Or perhaps someone was born into the family with a physical or mental challenge.
We want to rail against God for what we perceive as immeasurable injustices. But we can’t see the big picture that God sees:
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are you ways My ways,” says the LORD. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.” Is. 55:8, 9. NKJV
I believe these unfortunate individuals are gifts given to us to have a chance to grab hold of a deeper understanding and compassion for our brothers and sisters and ourselves – to teach us that no one is unlovable. It also helps us to touch our own pain and learn to love ourselves by tapping into the love of God.
Furthermore, I firmly believe that these ‘challenged, addicted’ people will be made whole in the heavens.
God wants you to have a life of complete love and contentedness. Sometimes that life will have a dark season. That’s the time God is asking you to look inside and ask, ‘What can I learn from this?’ It’s usually about a change that needs to be made that steers you towards your greater good. When you look to God in your dark seasons, they will come to an end:
For the needy will not always be forgotten, nor the hope of the afflicted perish forever. Ps. 9:18 NASB
God will see you through every peak and valley for the whole of your entire life…
Even to your old age, I will be the same. And even to your graying years I will bear you! I have done it, and I will carry you; and I will bear you and I will deliver you. Is. 46:4 NASB
Goodnight and God bless.