Friday, May 6, 2016

The story of Joseph in the Bible is intriguing and powerfully metaphoric for the rich and abundant life that is experienced as blessed but goes through loss, being loathed and despised, betrayed, abandoned, enslaved, being deceived, hardships, and ultimately redemption and the opportunity to bless the very ones who caused him so much suffering.

Joseph, like so many who rise in humble glory with wings of wisdom, went downward--first into a hole as his brothers pushed him and then downward from freedom to slavery as his brothers sold him, then downward to Egypt from the land of his father who believed he was dead.

The downward journey is not easy, nor fun, nor experienced as a blessing, yet it is by dying to self in the downward journey that we are born anew.

The culture in which we live, however, abhors downward.  It is all about upward.  Downward is losing with no gain perceived.  We are sold the idea that the only direction we should settle for is up; up the ladder of success, of power, of wealth, of popularity, of confidence, of credentials, of anything that is about achievement of substance.  Downward is about the opposite of what we should pursue.  And so we negate its benefits, we consider ourselves cursed, having lost our way, a loser.

Yet downward is what so many great people have gone through.  Trials and even suffering has a way of refining us.  We are assured again and again in scripture that God is with us, on our side, hasn't forgotten us, will deliver us, to trust in God's might and sovereignty and that God loves us more than we could imagine--and yet so much of the message of scripture is also about the trials and challenges that define faith.

Hardships, trials, challenges, loss, disappointments, all of these have a way of baptizing us in humility, fortitude, resolve, faith and inner strength.  And yet we define the good life without ever considering the fire in which we are refined or the valley through which we walk.  No one says "my goal for this year is to go through a serious trial or disappointment so that I can be enriched."  But we all want the depth and the wealth of wisdom that comes from facing the descent into the hole, or the slavery, or Egypt, or being betrayed, or forgiving those who have cut us off.

No matter what you face, remember the gifts that come from the unexpected place of hardship.

© 2016 Stephen Carl

1 comment:

  1. Education in reverse: first the test, then the lesson. It's that looking backward part that is always the hardest for me.