"The only accurate way to understand ourselves is by what GOD is and by what he does for us, not by what we are and what we do for him" - Eugene Peterson
Thursday, August 30, 2012
Finding GOD in All Things
“You intended to harm me, but GOD intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives” (Genesis 50:20)
In his classic book Mere Christianity C.S. Lewis wrote, “…the very moment you wake up each morning all your wishes and hopes for the day rush at you like wild animals.” Is this true in your life? Do you wake up every morning overwhelmed with stuff even before your feet hits the floor? Does your past regrets, present anxieties and future concerns terrify you like wild animals and paralyze you with fear? It doesn't have to be that way.
In Genesis we read that Joseph had an amazing ability to see GOD in everything, even in the midst of his seemingly senseless suffering. It is hard to find him talking about something without acknowledging GOD in it. For example, when Potiphar’s wife tempted him sexually, he asked, “How could I do such a wicked thing and sin against GOD?” (Gen. 39:9). When he was in prison and heard that the chief cupbearer and the chief baker of Pharaoh had dreams they couldn’t interpret, he said, “Do not interpretations belong to GOD?” (Gen. 40:8). He said to the Pharaoh regarding interpretation of dreams, “I cannot do it… but GOD will give Pharaoh the answer he desires” (Gen. 41:16).
Not only that, even when it came to naming his kids he acknowledged GOD. He named his first son Manasseh (meaning “forgetting”) because, he said, “GOD has made me forget all my trouble” (Gen. 41:51). He named his second son Ephraim (meaning “twice fruitful”) because “GOD has made me fruitful in the land of my suffering” (Gen 41:52). He also tells his brothers towards the end of Genesis, “You intended to harm me, but GOD intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives” (Gen 50:20). Before his death he said, “I am about to die. But GOD will surely come to your aid and take you up out of this land” (Gen 50: 24–25).
For Joseph, acknowledging GOD in everything and in every situation was not wishful thinking. Nor was he in denial of the difficulties and pain he experienced in his life. Joseph was hated without reason, sold as a slave by his own brothers, falsely accused and put in prison for something he did not do. In every situation- including the pit, the prison and the palace - he recognized that he was not alone and that GOD was with Him. What helped him cope with fear, worries and anxiety was acknowledging GOD at work even in His worst-case scenarios. That is why he says that GOD was accomplishing a good purpose in his life despite the evil he had to live through. This was not obvious to Joseph from the beginning but was made clearer only later in his life. Yet he trusted in GOD and acknowledged Him in every situation of his life.
Acknowledging GOD means that we recognize GOD as GOD in everything we do and everywhere we go. The more we recognize that we are not living life alone and that GOD is with us and working for us, the more we will be able to cope with life’s challenges and concerns. When you and I go about our daily activities like taking a walk, lying on bed, writing an email, finishing a project, preparing a meal, changing a diaper, organizing an event, playing a game or visiting a friend –just to name a few- may we see GOD in all things, and all things in GOD.
Trust in GOD with all your heart and don’t try to figure things out on your own. In everything you do and everywhere you go acknowledge Him and He will show you which path to take (Proverbs 3:5-6, paraphrase).