Showing posts with label Joseph. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Joseph. Show all posts

Onward! (Wherever that may be!)

One foot in front of the other. How many times have I used that phrase to explain to people how I "do it"? Something just kicks in and you do what you have to do; and you just keep on doing it. I guess it is moving forward - or going "onward," but it can feel like we are going around in circles. Continuously. Never ending.

It can feel like everyday is the same as the day before with the exact same chores to do. You know the drill. There's bathing, transferring, dressing, feeding, transferring again, laundry, and ton of little chores to do that make the bigger ones easier. Eventually, even the little surprises become part of the routine. You know those things all too well too. There's case managers who forget to order supplies, or can't get the order right....ever, aides that don't show up the day you finally decided to go do something, or nurses trying to cram all her visits in during the last week of the month. Those are just a few of the things that I can think of off the top of my head. It sometimes feels (to me) like we face the giant every day.

David only faced one Goliath, Daniel only visited the lion's den once, it can feel like we face Goliaths and lion's dens every day sometimes. These are just a couple favorite Bible stories we like to share, stories where God made a victor out of a common person. There are other stories demonstrating God's sustaining power too. For instance, Noah only built one ark, but it took him years. Job was only sick one time, but it wasn't just a one day thing; and he never got his kids back. Gideon and Joshua faced battle after battle - there was never just one battle and it was over. Even David spent years running from Saul's spear until he finally became king. And of course there's Joseph who was betrayed by his brothers and spent years in slavery and prison before he ever saw the throne God promised. But all these faithful men walked onward in their faith no matter what they faced. We can too.

We can continue to move forward in our faith even though every day presents obstacles before us. Whether it is the one-time looming giant or sticking with the building of an ark, we can press on into Him. I'm not saying it's always (or ever) easy, but if these guys can hold to the faith in the situations they faced on a daily basis, we can too. Even if we don't see an end in sight. Just like God was there for them in whatever it was they faced, He's here for us too. And that's why we can continue to push onward.

It can be difficult since we can't see how our story ends yet. News flash: they couldn't either. We can read their whole stories in the matter of a few minutes and forget that they walked it out over years. But they held on to faith in Him. All those years in a dark dungeon didn't stop  Joseph from believing. As a matter of fact when he was dying - he told them they were to take his bones with him when they left Egypt. He never gave up hope - even in death.

Today my goal will be to stay focused on Him rather than my situation. My meditations will be on His ever abiding presence that does not leave my faith stranded. I can always trust in Him to keep my soul. I will turn my thoughts to how He continues to walk this walk with me - I don't go onward (wherever that may lead) without Him. We are inseparable. So today I will think about how inseparable God and I are - will you join me?

He Always Showed Up

I often refer to caregivers as furnace walkers because our lives are lived out in the furnace. This morning during my devotions, some thoughts left over from yesterday evening started rolling around in my head.

I first thought of the three Hebrew children as they were thrown into the fiery furnace. Then I thought about Daniel and the entire night he spent in the lion's den. In times past these stories were really frustrating to me as they all were delivered out of their trials while most caregivers faithfully face their furnace day after day. But today my mind took a different route.

For these two stories what stood out to me in my morning devotions was the fact that God showed up. Technically, He didn't deliver them out of the trial, but He walked through it with them. The king in both of these stories had delivered these men of God to their fate - and the king in both stories removed the men from their trials. But God showed up.

God was present in the fire with the three Hebrew children, but He was not visible once the king's men got them out. The Angel of the Lord came and shut the lion's mouths while Daniel spent the night in their den, but the king came and got him out the next morning when he with feeble faith said, O Daniel, was your God who you serve able to deliver you? Indeed He was! But God didn't open the mouth of the sealed den and let Daniel out, He spent the night there with him.

There are so many stories where God showed up to walk through trials with people of faith. I think of Hagar, who was leaving the mistreatment of Sarah. God showed up and prophesied about her son, Ishmael, but then told her to go back to Sarah and server her. He didn't whisk her away on a white horse.

What about Jeremiah? Some of believer's favorite words were penned by this prophet. I know the plans I have for you....But Jeremiah did not escape the captivity of his day. Instead, God walked through it with him. And all throughout scriptures in stories of great trials and tribulations we see God showing up. His presence hovered over the Children of Israel while they made their way, the long way, through the wilderness - but they still endured the wilderness.

He was with Joseph when he was sold by his brothers into a lifetime of slavery; and also with him when he was in prison for something he didn't do. Even though Joseph did some great things through God's direction - he never just went home. 

This morning I am encouraged by these stories of faith in the furnace. God doesn't always make the fire just go away - but He always shows up and walks through it with us giving us the strength and the courage to face each new day.

Today my thoughts will be on the ever abiding presence of God. I'm going to meditate on the fact that He's not afraid to walk through my furnace(s) with me. When it gets hotter - He gets nearer. Instead of always looking for that way out - I'm going to look for signs of His presence in the fire today. I'll listen for Him and look for Him. And when I sense Him, I'll lean in close to see what He has to say. Will you join me?

Still Can't See!

I've been thinking about Joseph a lot over the last few weeks. He was another Bible hero who spent some time not being able to see just what God was doing in his life. It had to be so hurtful and difficult to deal with not only the rejection by his brothers, but being sold into slavery.

If all that weren't bad enough he ends up going to prison for something he didn't do. Honestly, I'm sure somewhere along the way I might have quit. While Joseph's intense struggle isn't described in scripture, we can imagine that he endured heart wrenching agony. And it went on for years.

We read the story of Joseph in a matter of a few minutes sometimes without realizing the impact of the number of years that  passed. He sat in prison. And sat. Then sat. And then sat some more. And the prison he was in was not anything like our prisons today. As harsh of an environment as today's prison are they would be plush and luxurious by comparison.

I have to wonder what he thought about. Did he go over the dreams he'd been given as a young man and wonder if they were going to happen? You know he had to miss his family, but that was nothing new. Did he wonder what his brothers told his dad? Maybe he had dreams that Jakob, his dad was going to find him and come swoop him up and take him back home. I wonder all of this because it sounds like what I would do.

When my son was first injured in the automobile accident and we were sitting for three long weeks in ICU, I kept thinking God was going to swoop in on His white horse and whisk us away. But of course, it didn't happen like that. Instead, like in Joseph's situation, it just kept dragging out year after painful year.

Do you ever wonder how Joseph kept it together over the years? I mean he was in a tough spot that just got tougher but still managed to keep his faith. And it's important to note that he didn't have a Bible to resort to. He couldn't pick up the Bible like we can and go read Psalms for comfort or Proverbs for wisdom. He had far less than we do.  He had nothing. 

We know he kept the faith even when he couldn't see by something he told his brothers as it all began to unfold. He said to his brothers that what they meant for evil, God meant for good. (Gen. 50:20) He recognized that even though life came at him, God had  sent him before to prepare the way for his family to be preserved. God's cool like that. He can turn sticky situations into something good. And many times He does it right under our unsuspecting noses.

Joseph kept the faith through some very dark circumstances. God continued to use him to interpret dreams and to share wisdom. As a caregiver it can be easy to feel like we don't have anything to contribute. And quite honestly, people feel sorry for us and don't require a lot out of us. But that's no excuse.God never says never mind. He doesn't take back dreams, calls or visions. Whatever He says about us doesn't change because we become a caregiver. Even though the journey was difficult, God fulfilled what He desired in Joseph's life.

No matter how good or how bad it might look right now - God is still in control. He hasn't forgotten about us. He hasn't changed His mind about us. He is still our God. He is still a loving, caring King who is concerned about everything that concerns us. He remains faithful - even in the midst of the dark stormy night. We can't do a thing to change that about Him! I sure am glad.

Today I will meditate on how God never changes. I'll turn my thoughts to how He continues to watch over us no matter what a day brings - or doesn't bring. I will keep my thoughts focused on how unchanging He is when life around us is in a whirlwind. Nothing scares God. Nothing can make Him give up on us. I will not give up on Him. Will you join me in trusting Him for one more day?

Joseph's Journey

Yesterday I spent more time thinking about how adversity can open the door of hope. My thoughts led me to Joseph. God had given him dreams when he was a young boy and his family had made fun of him and judged him for it. I am sure he wondered some about those dreams as he was imprisoned for something he did not do.

Joseph's situation was dire. First of all, prisons back then were nothing like they are today. While our prisons are not pleasant, they are humane. I figure it had to be a very lonely place for Joseph. His family was far away and they weren't coming to look for him. Did he think back about those childhood dreams?  I wonder if he thought about his brothers and family while he was there. Did he ever think about what it would have been like if he hadn't been betrayed and sold by his brothers?

I also wonder if forgiveness and acceptance were daily choices for Joseph. In my situation, someone else caused the accident which injured my son and made me a caregiver. Sometimes I think about what my son would have been doing if the accident hadn't occurred. This can easily make forgiveness a daily choice. Just like Joseph most likely sat in a dark prison, caregiving can seem very dark and lonely at times. But it doesn't mean the dreams are dead.

God didn't say, I know I gave you dreams Joseph, I just forgot this other stuff was going to happen. He didn't erase the dreams because of life's adverse situations. Instead, the prison became its own door of hope. Of course, we read these chapters in a few minutes while Joseph lived out years of his life. In one chapter we see that he is brought out of prison and becomes a great leader. In another his brothers come seeking food and there is a great reunion. And then they lived happily ever after.

Joseph's dreams came true but not in the way he thought they would; and not in the time frame he would have probably preferred. His adversity became a door of hope for his whole family. And in the end, his dreams played out just like God had promised.

Caregiving can be a lonely place and it can seem like there is never a light in the end of the tunnel. But just like Joseph we have choices even in our situation. We can choose to forgive, and keep trusting God or we can quit. It's as simple as that. Maybe life isn't playing out like we thought, and maybe our dreams seem on hold. But we have a choice over our attitude and whether we will use adversity to find hope or use it as an excuse to become bitter. Me? I choose to look for the door of hope each day. Some days I have to look harder than others to find the positives, to find hope. But it's there if we look for it.

Today I will meditate on the hope that knowing Him brings. I will purposefully look for the positives today and rest in hope even in adversity. I will set my mind on things above and let God handle the big stuff. I will choose to forgive and I will keep dreaming even when it looks impossible. Will you join me?

Who's to Blame?

I've been thinking about some of my favorite Bible stories the last few days and on Hebrews 11 where we see so many of our heroes of the faith listed. None of them would have been heroes at all had they not faced and overcome some sort of adversity. This week, we'll be taking a look at a few of them. Today, we'll start with Joseph.

The story of Joseph is found in Genesis. His brothers were jealous of him because of their father's favoritism. They also didn't like the fact that he had so many dreams which didn't always seem to be too favorable to them. So they sold him as a slave and told Daddy he died. Talk about sibling rivalry! He spent years and years as a slave in a foreign nation and then was thrown into prison on false charges. But he maintained his faith. He continued to believe and trust in God.

Joseph didn't have a neighborhood church to attend to help him keep his morale and faith intact. Actually, he was in some pretty dark circumstances. There's so much to the story but let's just concentrate on his brothers' betrayal.

God blessed Joseph and He even blessed Pharaoh because of Joseph. After many years Joseph became Pharaoh's right hand man and was a very powerful ruler - Just like his dreams had prophesied. Finally, his brothers came to him because of a horrible famine in the region and Joseph had been given wisdom by God and had a stock pile enough to take care of everyone for the duration. His brothers bowed down before him to request food to live - just like the dreams had prophesied.

Joseph had no bitterness toward his brothers - and personally, I wouldn't have blamed him it he had! He had to have forgiven them to handle the situation as he did. Now, he did have a little fun with them and messed with their heads since they did not recognize him, but there was no animosity in his heart that we can tell.

In Genesis 50 after Jacob, their father had died, the brothers were terrified that Joseph would harm them or try to get them back for the things they did. That's called a guilty conscious, and it made them miserable. They concocted this huge story to try and protect themselves. But Joseph told his brothers that what they had meant for evil - God had used for good.(Genesis 50:20) And he vowed once again to take care of all of them and their families.

The point is that Joseph did not blame anyone, he did not whine and he did not try to get restitution - he let the past go. Sometimes there are people to blame for us being in a caregiving situation. But we must choose to forgive; we must choose not to blame. It will not change the situation and it will only lead our own hearts into bitterness. Like Joseph, we must trust God from where we have found ourselves.

Today I will trust that God has my heart no matter how difficult the walk. I will not blame anyone - but trust Him where I am. I will meditate on His goodness and not let bitterness have even a second to take root in my heart. I will be thankful for His goodness and faithfulness even in the cave. Will you join me?

Where do you put it?

Some days it seems we can have it all together. Everything is going along good, emotions are intact, and the day overall just isn't bad. And then outta nowhere....someone says something about faith that makes it sound like you don't have any since you are in adverse circumstances. Is it just me, or does it happen to you too? I'm beginning to think that faith is a little like courage; if there isn't some challenge to address it doesn't really count.  

When the statement occurred I was flooded with questions and hopelessness tried to swallow me up. Because if it all relies on me - what I believe - what I say - what I can change with my attitude - then what is my faith in: myself. True faith believes period. The fact that we are still clinging on to Him even when everything around us does not seem to make any sense at all, or doesn't seem to be changing at all is the deepest faith - not the lack of faith. I must say that I do not have any confidence in myself - I cannot change my circumstances. I can only change my attitude in them.

Joseph could have confessed and recited his dreams all he wanted in that unjust prison cell...but until it was God's time...nothing was going to happen. What Joseph did have to guard was his heart. He had to keep his heart and trust in God in the midst of the circumstance. Job could have quoted every healing scripture there was...but until it was God's time...nothing changed. Abraham could not make Isaac (the promise) arrive any sooner - he tried, remember? He ended up with an Ishmael.

These are some of our faith heroes...faith did not change their circumstances nor was it measured by them! Do no measure your faith by your circumstances!!! Are you still clinging to Him? Do you still trust Him? Are you still waiting on Him? ...that's faith.

Emotionally Stranded

  I was up late last night - and it wasn't to study my Bible. Lol. I was watching a dumb show. But each episode ended with things up in ...