I confess. I am a wimp when it comes to being able to endure things. Maybe it is a character flaw. Or maybe I am just a product of the modern age. Maybe it is because I am a guy. You know, we are the type who diagnose a problem, identify and apply the solution, and want the issue fixed. Now.
The Bible has dozens of encounters involving people who were forced to endure long periods of hardship, torment and stress. The heroes in these stories kept their faith in God and endured. Have you noticed how, when we read these Bible stories, we can be lulled into forgetting how horrendous the predicaments the people were in because we already know how the stories end?
For example, Joseph was imprisoned for two years on a false rape charge. His best hope for an early release went up in smoke when someone he’d helped completely forgot about him. The entire story of Joseph’s imprisonment and his subsequent release and triumphant rise to power is captured in a little over two pages of the book of Genesis. You can read the whole account of this part of Joseph’s life in about ten minutes.
What’s striking about this is that Joseph had no idea how long he was going to be imprisoned. Unless we force ourselves to reflect, we completely miss what being held indefinitely must have been like for him. In those days prisoners were not protected by constitutions. They had no trial and no rights. Take a few minutes to ponder this: Joseph faced a predicament that he did not deserve and as far as he knew, it was not going to end while he was still alive.
Why does this matter? Joseph’s account tells us that he remained faithful to God throughout his imprisonment and that God blessed him even during his time of torment.
We have Joseph-like situations all around us. Does your marriage feel like a complete prison? Did you get laid off from the job you knew how to do and now find yourself wondering if you will ever work at your former levels of income? Does your spouse have a debilitating illness that may require your care for years to come? Does your wayward child show any signs of overcoming the drug addiction that has plagued her since high school?
You get the idea. Situations seem impossible to fix, and prayers to relieve stress and suffering seem to go unanswered. You know there is no end in sight. What are we to do? Curse God? Give up believing that he actually is Love?
What is the point of this blog post? To remind us that our sense of time doesn’t always match up with God’s time. He does what He does in each of our lives to bring ultimate glory to His name. We can’t easily understand that during periods of stress. But we can remember those who persevered. We can marvel at the grace each must have received during impossible situations. In the end God’s time was their time.