Their youngest son went for a walk one day and never came back. The only thing that was found was a piece of clothing belonging to the boy—smeared with blood.
Can you imagine a harder place? The boy’s parents had no clue as to what had happened to their child, but that bloody coat indicated violence. Yet a body was never found, nor was a perpetrator of the crime ever suspected, accused, or punished. They spent many years grieving and wondering.
And I’m sure the father, especially, had many questions for God. His life up to that point had been anything but peaceful. There had been so much turmoil. He knew and believed God’s promises, but his path had been through many deep valleys. Had he not suffered enough? Why had God allowed this to happen now? This was too much to bear. It was such a staggering blow that he lived his life in constant and deep mourning. Can you imagine the prayers, the tears, the questions, the sadness?
I wept when I read the end of the story. I was very familiar with it, because this is the story of Joseph and his father, Jacob. Yet reading it this time, I was touched like never before.
I wept not in sadness, but in relief and thankfulness.
You know the end of the story. Jacob discovers that God has had a hand in his life all along. Joseph says, “God has gone ahead of us, setting the stage so that I can save us all.”
But oh! the hard places Jacob had to walk through!
There are so many Scriptures that tell us that God holds the lives of His children. He not only walks through everything with us (remember Jesus’ words, Take courage. I am here.), but He has a plan and He uses everything that happens to achieve His plan.
Two years ago, I joined a small group who decided to read the Bible through in four months, reading the Scriptures in chronological order. (Let me, right now, recommend this to you. Benefits and blessings will come that you cannot imagine. And if you’re still following this site at that time, we may do it together. This series on hope will be over by then, so I’m thinking about doing the Bible Read-Thru here, from January to April …. ) Reading the Bible through in this way makes so many things clear: God has a plan for His creation. He is in control and carrying out His plan. And He has a plan for each one of us, too, and is carrying that out also.
But in the hard places we hurt and cry and struggle. We need those bridges of hope that we can trust to take us forward.
I want to pull out just two passages today that always speak peace to me. They’re taken from very different contexts. The first is written to people who are in the middle of terrifying opposition and great suffering. The second addresses a people on the verge of a wonderful new life.
…trust your lives to the God who created you, for he will never fail you (1 Peter 4:19)
For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land of flowing streams and pools of water…a land where food is plentiful and nothing is lacking (Deuteronomy 8:7,9)
Our hope knows that in the good times and in the most terrifying times, our lives are safe in His hands because He has a plan for us and He is bringing us to the place He promised.
Always, no matter what things look like from our earthly perspective, He is working according to His plan and promise.
My comfort in my suffering is this: Your promise renews my life.