In the Dickens’ classic, “Great Expectations”, the protagonist, young Pip, finds that his advancement in life is not due to chance. It is due to the tangled, behind-the-scenes manipulations of characters with varied motives, some selfish and some good as we see in his benefactor, the convict Abel Magwitch. Still, even what is meant for good produces bad results in both character and position in life.
In our lives we often fall into several traps as to why we think we succeed or fail. It could be due to our abilities or lack of ability. It could be due to our strict adherence to a code of ethics that God might honor if we hit the mark. We may see ourselves as victims of circumstance or the decisions of others, or it could be that God has lost track of us in the crowd of over 6 billion souls that inhabit this sphere. It is a sad and lonely thought to be lost in the crowd or to be the victim of the crowd as we see in Dickens’ and our present world. We already saw that Asaph almost fell victim to this mentality in Ps 73.
However, it could be – and this is the truth - that our God is loving and active at a level of detail that incorporates our frailties into His plan. He detours opposition and produces an even greater good than our greatest expectations. In this light let’s look at another protagonist, Joseph, whose opposition was great but whose benefactor was greater, God, and let’s walk beside him with the benefit of knowing the end of the story from the beginning.
Joseph had a dream. It was from God, so this was a good start. However, the moment he shares this dream, things go horribly wrong. His whole family ridicules the dream, and after his brothers attempt to murder him out of jealousy, they sell him into slavery to people from another nation. Joseph is carried against his will further and further away from the fulfillment of his dream. In captivity his gifts continue to work, and he advances – as a slave.
In lesser crises we as Christians too quickly look to our circumstances and comments of others to interpret for us what has happened with our lives. The friends of Job are a great example. Here are a few thoughts, and think of Joseph’s outcome when you read:
- “I really thought that God wanted me to do that, but no one else thinks I am capable. Maybe I did not hear God or He does not think my life is important.”
- “My vision is big, but I just lost my finances. Friends think that I should be satisfied with what I have, with my station in life.” They say, “His circumstances show that he must not have the faith necessary to accomplish the task.”
"Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the LORD your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you." Deut 31:6