I so hope you took some time to refresh your memory about the life and times of dear Joseph, favored son of his Papa. Life wasn’t easy for Joseph but it didn’t all stink either. It turns out that God’s hand was upon him, and even Joseph eventually admits to his brothers that, although they intended to harm him, God used their mis-deeds for good.
This isn’t the same thing as saying forgive and forget about it. And I would hate it if you took this story and over-simplified it in some bizarre attempt to excuse bad behaving in your own family. Here’s what I think we can do with the story without completely losing our scriptural integrity.
I think the story can bear the weight of saying this – even when life is very difficult, and bad things happen, God can be found in the midst of the story. In some cases, people who suffer a great tragedy do not find God in the story – and that is their experience and I respect it. Again, I’d hate it if we tried to tell suffering people to just buck up because surely God is up to something good.
However, we do have folks who experience trauma, loss and deep grief and at some point report to us that they indeed did find God in the middle of their darkest night. It does happen.
And I love the possibility of it.
What I can say for myself is this: my experience with God in the midst of messy living is often something that is revealed to me in hindsight, not the heat of battle. But because this has happened, I try to surround myself with reminders of the possibility of his presence, especially during seasons of grief and loss.
Here’s what I suggest to those suffering this holiday season. Try to hang out this holiday season with people who can remind you of God’s presence even if you yourself are feeling spiritually low. People who have taught you that they get what it is like to stumble around in the dark with a limp…and have survived to tell the tale. Those need to be your peeps this holiday season!
This holiday season aggressively seek out opportunities to be around people who support your recovery. And even though it doesn’t feel like it is true, look for ways to support someone else in their recovery. I know it is hard when you feel yukky, but try to find a way to help others.