Life is marked by painful providences. We face trials and tribulations throughout our lives, from the moment we are born until the moment we die. As my momma was fond of saying, “Jesus never promised you a rose garden on this side of the grave.” No, in fact He promised just the opposite:“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
As a pastor I have the great privilege of “Gospel-life coaching” many in the body of Christ. It is not uncommon to hear from far too many that they feel as if in looking back over their lives that they are standing amidst the wreckage of a life marked by failure and falling short—“sweet dreams and flying machines in pieces on the ground,” as James Taylor sang years ago.
So how do we rise above the wreckage and rubble that marks all of our lives? There is only one way: we must see our Redeemer in the rubble with us if we are ever going to rise above it! Joseph was able to do just that; looking back over his times of trial, he told his brothers: “It was not you who sent me here, but God” (Genesis 45:8).
Joseph was forsaken by his brothers, who bitterly resented his God-given dreams. They threw Joseph in a well intending to leave him there to die. Then they decided to turn a profit, so they pulled him out of the well and sold him as a slave to merchants who were traveling to Egypt.
Once in Egypt, God took Joseph out of the pit and placed him in the palace, making him the prime minister of all Egypt. Through all the painful providences, Joseph saw the sovereign loving hand of God at work, even in the wicked acts of his brothers. To be sure, Joseph’s brothers were guilty of their terrible sin. But Joseph was able to rise above the rubble by seeing his Redeemer ultimately ruling in every aspect of his life.
What was true for Joseph was also true for Job who proclaimed, “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away” (Job 1:21). “Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” (Job 2:10). Job dealt with the most unimaginable loss anyone could ever experience in a single day. Job lost his wealth, his health, and all of his children . . . and yet he was able to rise above the rubble because he saw his Redeemer behind it all. Like Joseph, Job knew that nothing happened to him that didn’t first pass through the loving hands of the Almighty. Job saw beyond the disasters of nature and the dastardly deeds of sinful men all the way to a God, who was sovereignly in control of every single event. Indeed, not even a bird falls to the ground apart from His will (Matthew 10:29).
So, how have you been dealing with painful providences in your life lately?
Trouble at work
Difficulties in your marriage
Struggling in your singleness
Too much month at the end of the money
Peer pressure at school
If you view the world in the same way as most non-Christians, who see personal peace and happiness as the greatest good, you will find yourself tipped over for the rest of your life. But if you understand that God’s greatest goal for your life is holiness, not happiness…the godly life, not the good life, you will see past the painful providences in life all the way to your Redeemer.
He is there with you, right in the middle of the rubble, working out all things for His glory and your ultimate good.
This is grace for your race.
NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!
Tommy Boland is Senior Pastor of Cross Community Church in Deerfield Beach, FL. He blogs regularly at tommyboland.com.