Growing up, I had a horrible attention span. No matter where I was – school, church, home – it was difficult for me to listen to anyone longer than five minutes. The saving grace for my parents and teachers was that fact that I loved to read. I could sit with a book for hours upon hours and never lose focus. Therefore, most Sunday mornings while the preacher was preaching I would sit and read a story in my Bible while sitting next to my mother, who was most likely thankful for the reprieve from my normally hyperactive ways.
My favorite was always the story of Joseph. (I say “story” not in any way to indicate a fictional account, simply to present the way I saw it – an exciting, true story.) I love action, adventure and fantasy and the life of Joseph was rife with it. I was intrigued by his dreams. I could imagine a beautiful coat beaming with every color of the rainbow. I was heartbroken when his brothers plotted against him and I was overcome with disappointment when Ruben arrived too late to save him from being sold into slavery. I was angry at Potiphar’s wife and indignant at the injustice of it all. Then came his stay in prison and I was fascinated by the new dreams and the interpretations Joseph was able to give through God’s guidance. He then rose to second in command and my imagination was in overdrive imagining all the wealth and splendor he was living in. Then, oh, then it got really good. His brothers came begging for food and assistance. Dramatic scenes of disguise, deception, heartbreak, and a little comedy ensued until Joseph finally saved the whole kingdom and was reunited with his family! By far, this was better than any fairy tale I ever read, the sort of tale so rich it was hard to believe that any of it had actually happened.
As I got older, I kept reading the story of Joseph’s life, and kept learning more about our God. Rather than finding amazement only at the adventure to be found within the story, I was in awe of how masterfully God brought about His will. Joseph was abducted by his siblings, accused of adultery, and thrown into jail—all so he could save the kingdom, thereby saving his family, thereby ensuring God’s promise to Abraham, which eventually brought about the birth of Christ.
God uses everything: every person, every event, everything. In my own life I’ve faced struggles in the last year or two due to the fact that I wasn’t happy with my situation in life. When I was younger I thought at this point I would be living a bohemian lifestyle constantly traveling the world, or working my way up as a modern captain of industry. My life now is absolutely wonderful, but it wasn’t what I thought it would, or maybe should, be. Truth be told, those exciting fictional stories I had always loved to read growing up had seeped into my mind and convinced me that was what I should be striving for and my life by comparison was… well, boring. I wasn’t doing anything I saw as particularly incredible or Earth-shattering, and so I took that to mean that I wasn’t making a difference.
How silly of me. How ridiculous to think I should have been anywhere other than where God had me. I had no real trials to speak of. I wasn’t sitting at the bottom of a pit wondering what would happen to me as my brothers plotted above. I wasn’t waiting in prison for a crime I hadn’t committed and hoping that someday someone would remember a favor I did for them and get me out. I was just…dissatisfied.
Eventually, I realized that where I was in life was giving me opportunities I had never before imagined. (Check out KatharosNOW to see how I’ve been using those opportunities.) It gave me a chance to evaluate who I was and who I was really trying to please—myself and what I thought were the expectations of others, or God?
How many women have faced that in their lives? How many Christian women have lost track for a time and became frustrated? Marriage, kids, careers, recessions…life happens and how many have looked up, confused at where they are in life and wondering how things turned out that way. How many women have not lost faith in God, but failed to recognize and appreciate how incredibly, how meticulously He is working in their life to further His goals?
We see examples of God working His plan throughout the pages of our Bibles. We see him using Rahab the prostitute to help ensure a victory for the Israelite army and ending up in the lineage of Christ. We see him using Jacob, whose actions at times could be called “sneaky” or “deceptive” at best, to become the father of a nation of God’s people. We see him using Jonah, very much against his own will, to help save the entire people of Ninevah. How powerful is the example of Paul because of how hard he slaved to work against Christ before meeting our Lord on the road to Damascus?
“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness” (James 1:2-3, ESV). “Trials” can be different to different people. They can be the death of a loved one, marital problems, job frustration, depression, or stress from the demands of being a student, a child, a parent, a wife, a caregiver. They can be as simple as just not being satisfied with where you are in your life. We need to learn to accept our circumstances. More than that, we need to learn to embrace them. Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers but led such an upright life that he was quickly moved to the head of Potiphar’s house.
Accept and understand that we might not comprehend the reason behind the direction our life has taken for a while, if ever. But trust that God has a purpose in allowing us to be where we are. Seek to find what you can learn. Pray for guidance. Look for opportunities to serve that are available only to your unique situation in life. Strive each day to be a shining example and remember that even when your life seems to have gone desperately off-course, you are exactly where God wants you to be.
By Lauren Bookout
Lauren and her husband, Travis serve with the Morton Street church of Christ in Denison, TX where Travis is the pulpit preacher. Lauren is the Editor for KatharosNOW, a website and monthly e-zine devoted to helping teen girls be set apart for Christ. She is currently a graduate student at Southeastern Oklahoma State University and is planning to graduate next year. Lauren has had the privilege of speaking at several Girls’ Days and is available to speak. You can contact her at email@example.com or (903) 465-4127