We have probably all been there. We really believe that God is directing us. We have a “vision” or a “dream” of his purpose in our lives. So after we pray about it, and seek guidance, we make that big decision. We move across the world, or across country, or even down the street to start our new ministry. But, when we get there it is nothing like what we expected. There is one problem after the other. We may feel betrayed by others. We might feel like we are constantly fighting an uphill battle. We might feel like we made a mistake, that maybe we didn’t “hear” God after all? We are questioning ourselves and begin to doubt.
What happens in those moments? Those moments when you feel like you are doing the right thing. In fact you KNOW you are doing the right thing. You know your heart is in the right place, you are serving the Lord, listening to him, obeying him, and wanting to do His will. But, what happens when trying to do His will feels more like its backfiring.
For many this is when you begin to lose hope. You may begin to question yourself. You may ask, did I hear God correctly? You may wonder if you are doing something wrong. You may think you made a mistake. And, you might assume that you aren’t good enough, and that you can’t handle all these problems. Your self esteem begins to drop, your confidence in your ministry begins to lack, and you start to consider other possibilities which include quitting ministry altogether. For others this may be when depression and anxiety begin to set in. Especially if these troubling times last for years. When you get past the phase of working out the kinks, yet you still are feeling like nothing is being accomplished, or at least not at the rate you wanted, it can take a toll on your thoughts, your actions, and your physical body. You can become weary, you can become doubtful, and you can become heartbroken. What you once were excited and passionate about is now a feeling of dread, defeat, and doubt. For some this takes a toll on their spiritual life as well.
When we look at the story of Joseph in Genesis chapters 37, 39-47,50 we see that Joseph had “dreams” and “visions” for his life. These dreams as a young boy included his brothers one day bowing down before him. For Joseph he was going to be someone in high power some day, someone well respected, well-known, so much so that even his own brothers would bow to him. But, his story didn’t go according to what we might think for man that would one day be in a position of such great power. Joseph was thrown into a cistern, I am sure it was dark, cold and dingy down there. A place of despair. I would assume not a place Joseph dreamed about when he dreamed his brothers would bow before him. Not long after, the brothers saw a caravan riding by and decided that instead of leaving him in the cistern to die, they would sell him into slavery. So off Joseph went with the caravan into a foreign land to become a slave. During this time I assume that the dreams he had of being in such high power that even his family would bow to him, were beginning to diminish more. We don’t know the thoughts of Joseph but this could have been a confusing time for him, first the cistern, now being completely removed from his family, there was no guarantee that he would ever see them again, so how is that they would ever bow before him? But, what we do know, is that “God was with Joseph” and that Joseph continued to trust and obey God. Because of his attitude and belief, he was put in charge of the household of one of the highest officials in the land, Potipher. He was trusted with everything this man had. Until one day, he was falsely accused of trying to rape Potiphers wife, and was thrown in prison. Once again, not the place you’d assume Joseph would be in when he was supposed to be in a prestigious and powerful position. But, from what scripture says, over and over, “God was with Joseph”. Through Josephs obedience and trust in God, he was put in charge at the prison. Over time, Joseph was interpreting dreams, while in prison, for the cupbearer and baker of the King. When they got released from prison, and the cupbearer was to return to his job, Joseph asked him to tell Pharoah to remember him. But, the cupbearer forgot about him..for TWO years. During that time, it would seem that Joseph could lose heart, that the dreams he had in his youth would never come true. But, we know that “God was with Joseph” and through Joseph’s obedience and God’s grace, Pharaoh himself had a dream, and called Joseph to interpret it. It’s through this interpretation that Pharaoh put Joseph in charge of the whole land of Egypt. Finally, this is the time when Joseph would see those dreams coming true. When his purpose would be revealed. There was a famine in the land, and it was because of Joseph’s character, Joseph never giving up, and God being with Joseph that he would not only save his family, but an entire nation. Josephs dreams did come to fruition, his brothers did bow down to him. In Genesis chapter 50 beginning in verse 15, after the death of Josephs father, Israel, his brothers began to get worried and thought that now that their father was dead, Joseph would take revenge on them, so they told Joseph that their father said, before dying that he must forgive them. Josephs response beginning in Genesis 50: 19 was “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives”. He then went on to say he would provide for them and their children and show kindness towards them.
You see there are many times in Joseph’s life where he could have given up. Where he could have thought that his dreams and visions weren’t from the Lord. Where he could have thought he was wrong, doing the wrong thing, and that he really was worthless. He could have gone through a great deal of depression. He could have doubted himself and his abilities—to predict dreams. He could have doubted God. He could have had anxiety about dying, or not seeing his family, especially his father. He could have had depression and been in great despair not knowing the future. But, what Joseph realized was that all he went through, was necessary in order for God’s people to be saved, for Joseph and his family to be saved. Had he never been sold, or had he died while in the cistern, or doubted his ability and refused to interpret dreams, who would have been there to tell Pharaoh what was about to come, and who would have been able to store up enough food to save a nation?
When you are doubting your abilities, when you are doubting yourself, or even doubting God; when you are feeling in despair, depressed, or that you may have made a mistake, or even God messed up, remember that God could be preparing you for something greater. All of this didn’t happen over a course of a week for Joseph it took YEARS for his purpose to be revealed. It took years of him going from a pit, to slavery, to prison, to being the right hand man of the King-proving his childhood dreams to be true. It could take years, but hold on, keep trusting, keep praying, keep believing and God will fulfill his purpose in your life, and your dreams and visions from God will come to pass.
1.) Do you feel like you are in a “pit”? Are a “slave”? Or “imprisoned” right now? If so, in what ways? Why?
2.) Are you finding yourself doubting your abilities?
3.) Are you wondering if maybe you misunderstood God’s plan for your life?
4.) In what ways do you see God moving and working in your life, even while in a “pit”, in “slavery” or in “prison”?
5.) Spend some time today asking God to reveal to you ways that he IS moving in your life, for patience to see his will through, and for an obedient heart.
6.) If you are feeling so down that although you see God moving, your depression, despair and anxiety has gotten the best of you please feel free to reach out to a Here 2 There ministries at firstname.lastname@example.org, and/or seek professional help.
Christy Paul, LMHC