Seeing The Whole Picture

I wish I could see the whole picture. I wish I could see how all of the pieces of my life are fitting together and where, specifically, things are heading. But, of course, I can’t.

I take great comfort, however, in the knowledge that God knows every step (see Psalm 139:1-5). The Lord not only knows the trajectory of my life, but it is a trajectory of His design. For some, this is a confusing notion once we admit that our life will include profound adversity and suffering.

As I read the Book of Genesis, and as I examine the life of Joseph, I am encouraged to be patient as the Lord works out His plan for my life. God allowed Joseph to endure some harsh things, but He managed those circumstances to bring about a most blessed result.

Joseph eventually became the Governor of Egypt, but only after being sold by his brothers to merchants, being betrayed by his master’s wife, and being forgotten by a man he had helped. I doubt very much that when these “bad things” were happening to Joseph that he was excited about the trajectory of God’s providence in his life. But in the end, Joseph was able to see the big picture and confess that what others meant for “evil”, God “meant for good” (Genesis 50:20).

The apostle Paul assures us that God is “causing all things to work together for good for those who love God, for those called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28). In the life of Joseph, we get an example of what this looks like.

Do you love God? Are you a follower of Jesus Christ? If the answer is ‘Yes’, you have every reason to be confident about the future. Difficult times may still lie ahead, but even the harshest of circumstances will be used by God to bring about an outcome that blesses you and glorifies Him.

On Sunday August 23, at St. Giles Kingsway and at The Well, I delivered a message about the life of Joseph. Have a listen—it may just help you see more of the whole picture.

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Finding Joy Amid Darkness

The joy we most commonly experience is fleeting. This is because our natural inclination is to connect our happiness to our circumstances. When things are going well, we rejoice and celebrate. When adversity strikes, however, our joy dissipates and is replaced by disappointment, frustration, and sometimes great sadness.

If joy is to be abiding, we need to anchor it to something bigger than our circumstances. The Scriptures indicate that the source and object of our joy ought to be the Lord Jesus Christ. As I read Paul (see Philippians 4:4 ff), and as I read James (see James 1:2-4), I see a way of experiencing joy in the Lord even amid great hardship.

This is not some kind of mental trickery, where we pretend that everything is “fine” when it really isn’t. No, I’m aiming at the kind of joy King David describes in the 23rd Psalm: “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for Thou art with me, Thy rod and staff, they comfort me” (Psalm 23:4).

For James, his joy is not rooted in the trial itself, but rather it is rooted in what the trial produces. The sense is that suffering produces something immensely positive in the life of a follower of Jesus–something that otherwise would not be.

I’m not suggesting that any of us go out and court suffering. I don’t like to suffer. I try and dodge adversity at every turn. But I must admit, I do love what suffering often does to me—it drives me to God, and I’m transformed in a way that could never be achieved by prosperity.

If you’re looking to hang on to joy when the world around you seams to be coming apart at the seems, may I encourage you to listen to the message below, delivered at St. Giles Kingsway and The Well on July 19, and again at Lucaya Presbyterian Kirk in The Bahamas on August16.

Joy need not be fleeting. This is something that is always within our reach—even in the dark.

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