One of the many lies that plague a suffering person is “I’m the only one.” Isolation and loneliness in the pain can be crushing and it can feel like you are the lone melancholy soul among a sea of happiness and fulfilled desires.
God is so kind to put stories of people in the Bible who faced tremendous suffering, isolation, and despair. In them we can trace the powerful, sovereign hand of God lovingly working the situations out for the good of those involved. But they didn’t see all of the fine details happening behind the scenes. We get the benefit of the end of the story. All they had were circumstances that seemed grim and hopeless.
I would have been 39.5 weeks by now. Our baby was due this coming Saturday. To say that this week has been difficult would be an understatement. There are so many hopes and expectations that were wrapped up in this one day that is coming—that I dread. I thought we were going to have a baby in a few days. I hoped we would be pregnant again by now. I thought the ache in my soul would get better not worse. All of these things, plus a hundred other emotions are swarming around in my head.
In the midst of all of this grieving and re-opening of the wound of a pregnancy loss I was able to go to chapel at the Seminary today. I don’t get to go often, but I had blocked it off on my calendar because I wanted to hear the speaker, Greg Gilbert. It’s been a rough week and I went in broken, emotionally drained, mad, confused, and on the verge of tears. For the first time in a long time I felt desperate to hear from God. I needed to know that God loved me and was still working good for me. I knew it in my head, but I was having trouble processing it all.
Greg preached on Genesis 37-50 (the life of Joseph). I knew when I saw the text that this sermon was God’s answer to my prayer for grace. And we need that in times of grief. We need little reminders that God is still for us, that he is still the source of all comfort in our time of need. We need to know that we are not alone. We need to see God’s faithfulness in the lives of those who have suffered before us. Greg said a lot of helpful things, but the two things that struck me most were:
- God’s providence is a long road. Sometimes God’s providence is a longer road than your life.
- You can’t read God’s providence forward, you can only read it backward.
God is the hero of Joseph’s story. He is the one who shows himself faithful through every seemingly insignificant detail. He is the one who provides a way of escape for Joseph, all so his greater purpose can be served—bringing about a people for himself and ultimately salvation through Jesus Christ.
And he is the hero of my story as well.
The God who worked all of Joseph’s pain and grief for good is the same God who is guiding all of the details of my loss and pain. He knows the end of the story and he promises good. I can’t always see that. And to be honest, I haven’t been able to see that this week. It doesn’t feel good. But I trust and I hope. This chapter is not finished yet in the book of my life. One day it will be. Maybe I won’t see the purpose for this sorrow in this life, but I will one day. And I hope I can say that it was worth the wait and worth the pain.
You can hear the entire message from today by going here. It's worth the listen regardless of where you are at in life right now.