What do we do when things don’t go according to plan? That’s the question Pastor Bobby addressed yesterday in the third installment of our series on Joseph at Trinity CRC (you can watch it here). Whether it’s our toast getting burnt or finding out that we didn’t get into the college of our choice, a lot of things veer off course in our day and throughout our lives.
How much of Joseph’s life didn’t go according to plan? He is sold by his brothers. He is forced into slavery in Egypt. He is thrown in prison on false charges. Finally Joseph receives some hope in Genesis 40 when he correctly interprets cupbearer’s dream: Pharaoh is going to restore the cupbearer to his position in the king’s court and Joseph asks the cupbearer to remember him once he’s free again. For how many days, weeks, or months does Joseph hold out hope until he came to the sad realization that the cupbearer has forgotten about him?
I appreciate how Bobby described the two things that can happen to me when things don’t go according to plan. This applies whether I am merely inconvenienced or suffering severely. On the one hand, the pain may keep me from recognizing or helping someone else who is suffering: I’m consumed with my predicament, leaving me with little interest or energy to observe what people around me are going through. On the other hand, the pain may make me uniquely qualified to identify with and reach out to someone else who is suffering: My troubles may increase my empathy for others who are experiencing trouble.
Jesus invites me to choose the latter, to reach out even when life is crazy. Jesus endured more pain than I’ll ever know, yet He chooses to identify with my pain. Even more than that, He reaches out, pulls me up, and gives me fresh courage and strength. That’s Jesus’ plan for me, and that remains constant even when everything else I count on falls apart.