Circling the Wagons

Wagons West

As I have meditated on the life of Joseph, God has used his example to speak to me.

A slave and then falsely imprisoned… Joseph had more than enough reasons to be bitter and upset at God for the hand he had been dealt.

But rather than complain or become bitter, Joseph’s quiet and restful faith reveals a solid, trust-filled relationship with God.

As he trusted, God blessed him and kept him in steadfast love.

His time in prison drew my attention this week.

Genesis 40:1-8

Some time after this, the cupbearer of the king of Egypt and his baker offended their lord the king of Egypt. Pharaoh was angry with his two officers, the chief cupbearer and the chief baker, and he put them in custody in the house of the captain of the guard, in the prison where Joseph was confined. The captain of the guard charged Joseph with them, and he waited on them; and they continued for some time in custody. One night they both dreamed—the cupbearer and the baker of the king of Egypt, who were confined in the prison—each his own dream, and each dream with its own meaning. When Joseph came to them in the morning, he saw that they were troubled. So he asked Pharaoh’s officers, who were with him in custody in his master’s house, “Why are your faces downcast today?” They said to him, “We have had dreams, and there is no one to interpret them.” And Joseph said to them, “Do not interpretations belong to God? Please tell them to me.”

There are many points that could be drawn from this passage, but the one thought that spoke most poignantly to me was that Joseph didn’t circle his wagons.

He didn’t focus so much on himself and his own troubles that he was incapable of seeing the troubled looks on the faces of the prisoners he served.

Joseph was focused on being faithful to God wherever he was, even in prison.

It is so easy, in this season where our family is going through some tough times, to want to circle our wagons.  To focus all my energies on our family and to miss opportunities to minister to others because I am so consumed with my own families troubles.

To just say, Lord, I don’t have the energy to help anyone else.  I can barely keep up with all we are going through. I am stressed out and tired and I don’t want to write that card or go visit someone or volunteer to help with that event.

I would rather just stay home and hide or just be ministered to. 

It was so convicting talking with a friend this week.  Sometimes we can forget in the middle of our own crisis that just because things are rough for us, doesn’t mean that trouble has been suspended for all the other people in our lives.

A friend of mine just found out her Dad has cancer.

My heart broke for her.

And in that moment, God humbled me.  He spoke to me tenderly, as a father, but also with strong conviction to my spirit.

My ministry in his name is not suspended just because we have come upon trials and difficulties.  No matter what my family is going through, God calls me to serve and love others daily.

To look for opportunities to be salt and light.

And I have found that being in this place of difficulty has made me even more compassionate towards others who are suffering.  I find that my prayers and notes to them have an authenticity that was lacking before- because I truly resonate with the pain and strain of being in a place of uncertainty- our faith is being tested.

It changes our perspective on all the events of our life, making us more watchful and prayerful.

I admit it, when things are more “comfortable” and nothing too crazy is going on in our lives, I tend to not pray as often and can lose some of the passion behind my prayers.

This has been a humbling reminder of how desperately I need the LORD and how easy it is to find my security in all the wrong things.

God is our rock, he holds us steady through life.  Not money, or retirement, or a job, or our health, or our family.  Those things can be lost in an instant- here one day and gone the next.

But our God is eternal.

Forever and ever.  He is our fortress and refuge that cannot be shaken.

In times like these, when our faith is being tested- he also calls us to live in trust and joy as a testimony to the greatness of our God.

I want to be faithful to his call, to continue to minister where he has called me to and love others and come alongside them in their pain- even as I endure my own pain.

What has God called you to do today?

Who needs an encouraging word from you?

A note, a phone call, an e-mail, a text?

Even as we bless others- God blesses us.

There is joy in speaking light into the dark places in life.  Into the anguish of suffering and pain.  To testify to our unchanging God who never leaves us nor forsakes us.

Don’t circle your wagons.

Walk as children of the light.

Let your light shine.

Oh Lord, sometimes the circumstances of our life are overwhelming.  We can become paralyzed by the unknown future and our own fears and worries about what may be.  Help us to release all those fears and worries to you- freeing us to serve you today.  Open our eyes so that we can see those around us who need a word of encouragement or a hug.  We want to be a light in this present darkness- there is so much suffering and hurt all around us.  Help us to reach out, even as we experience our own pain and anguish, looking for those that you have called us to encourage.  As we remember your suffering for us, Jesus, may we feel your presence in the midst of our pain- and bring others to your throne for strength and healing as we pray and seek your face.  In Jesus Name, Amen.

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