Jul18WedJuly 18, 2018
A few weeks ago, I met a disciple-making friend for lunch and we imagined what it would have been like for Joseph, son of Jacob, after he had been betrayed by his brothers, falsely accused and imprisoned in Egypt. If you have been reading along with the FMC Daily Scripture Reading Guide, then you will have just completed the book of Genesis – and this story.
What sustained Joseph while he was in the pit of Pharaoh’s prison? He didn’t have scrolls of Scripture for they had not yet been written. He didn’t have the Holy Spirit (as far as we know). He didn’t know of the resurrection of Jesus – that was over a thousand years away. Yet, we know that his faith in the Lord remained strong! After being reconciled with his brothers, he was able to say, “You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good” (Genesis 50:20a). What an incredible statement! It is likely that Joseph’s faith was sustained through sleepless nights, coarse chains and the agony of waiting because he filtered his suffering through a theology anchored in the true stories of the Lord’s faithfulness as told by his forefathers, Jacob, Isaac and Abraham.
There are always seasons of life which cause us to relate to Joseph’s story. We all know what it’s like to feel abandoned, accused, trapped and unwanted. Yet, with all that Christians have – the Holy Spirit, faith in the resurrection of Jesus Christ and multiple copies of the Bible – why can it be so difficult to experience moments in ‘the pit’ and still cling to faith in the Lord in a way similar to Joseph? I suspect that it’s because of how we perceive and process our crisis – which in turn, affects how we pray.
Recently, I was listening to a workshop on the topic of counseling through crisis by David Powlison. He highlighted an interesting point. He said that nearly every one of the Psalms have three similar ‘anchor passages.’ In other words, the human author, whether David or another, had three Hebrew Scripture passages in mind as they processed their own experience and turned them into a lamenting or thankful psalm.
The first passage was Exodus 34:6-7 where God revealed himself as one who is merciful, gracious, loving, faithful, forgiving and just.
The second passage was Numbers 6:22-27 where God initiated the High Priest to speak words of blessing, grace and peace over His people.
The third passage was Deuteronomy 32. This was where God revealed himself to be ‘The Rock’ of perfect salvation. As the psalmist faced a crisis, one of these revelations of God where likely present in his mind – allowing him to express his emotion and yet prayerfully yield to the Sovereignty of God. Thus giving us the Psalms.
When life gets challenging for you, as it will because we are people living in a sinful world and encased within a mortal, decaying body, how do you process your experience while in ‘the pit’? How do you turn the moment into prayer?
I invite you to process your situation in light of truth of God as He has revealed it within Scripture. Before your give your raw emotions to Him, let them first simmer in the truth God’s powerful nature. Then, let your requests be made known to Him. If we would do this more often, we would be much more likely to endure like Joseph and eventually proclaim, “[This event may have brought] evil against me, but God meant it for good!”