Why does God allow the struggle? Why the continual battle, when he could end every conflict with one word? Boom. It could all be over. It could literally disappear just like that. But it doesn’t because he doesn’t. Why is that?
Imagine for one moment the story of Joseph. Imagine it reads like this: Joseph had 11 brothers. Oh how they all loved each other, worked together so well, and never once had a bad day. Their father, Jacob, equally loved all of his sons and there was never conflict in their family. Every day was like a holiday with all of them together.
Borrrrr-innnnnggggg. Nobody would know that story. It would have never been written, it would have never been read, and it would have never had an impact on a single one of us.
Yet, isn’t that the story we want? We want the perfect marriage with our forever best friend, a cute little house that’s always tidy and somehow much bigger on the inside with all it’s big, bright, open rooms, and our 2.5 kids playing in a yard with a white picket fence and grass that’s always green and never needs to be mowed, oh and a lovely dog that never barks, sheds, or digs in the yard. And some tulips … put tulips in the yard. Wait, rocking chairs on the porch … and ferns. Hang ferns too.
Yip, that’s the story. That’s what life is supposed to be. When we get there, we know we have arrived.
Says who? Some 1950’s commercial trying to sell you a cake mix? Some Dick and Jane book you read in Elementary? Well, I read a different book where life seems to go a little different.
In the book I read, there’s a boy named Joseph with 11 brothers who absolutely hated him because his father favored him. There was continual conflict within this family, to the point the brothers took Joseph out one day to kill him, and ended up selling him for 20 pieces of silver. Then Joseph spent 13 years in prison.
That’s the story that made it into the book. So tell me again why you expected your story to be delightfully pleasant 100% of the time?
We have a real enemy in this life, and that enemy looks to stir up trouble, ruin good plans, and bring harm to every single one of us. He does a pretty darn good job with all of that, but even more, we’ve unknowingly partnered with him and stir up trouble ourselves. We step in and completely ruin good plans. We show up and we bring the harm. Every single one of us do it. We do it with our greed, our jealousy, our competitive nature, and our sinful desire to be on top. For us to be on top, others have to be on bottom, so we start knocking people down and justifying why we should be chosen, why we should be favored, why we should get more.
Oh you don’t do that?
Why did she get that new car when you’re still having to drive your hunk of junk? How come they get to live over there while you’re stuck living here? Why can’t your butt look like that in those leggings off the TikTok? You bought them too and it’s unfair you don’t look the same. Now what’s up with that? You’re on the same dang diet, he loses 20 pounds and you gain 3? You work at the same company doing the same job, and they make more money than you? Whatttttttt?
Maybe you’re not competitive, but does it make you shrink back a little? You look around at all they are and all they do with all they have, and it makes you feel less. It makes you feel a little less whole, a little less chosen, a little less called. You start telling yourself a story of being not good enough, always over-looked, weak, stuck and overwhelmed. Recognize that story? Have you been telling yourself that one?
And the enemy sits back and twiddles his thumbs because you just did his job for him. His objective was to sideline you from living the life you were created to live, and dang his intended harm wasn’t even necessary to take you out. You looked around so much you overlooked your own life and stopped living it.
We’re the modern day 12 sons of Jacob just taking our own selves out of the family. That one’s jealous. That one’s bitter. That one’s discouraged. That one’s pitiful. That one’s angry. That one’s exhausted. That one’s selfish. That one’s prideful. That one’s distracted. That one quit trying. That one’s busy. That one’s still comparing. Which one are you?
What causes us to be this way? It’s the story we tell ourselves that it’s supposed to be easy. It’s supposed to be fair. It’s suppose to all work just like this, and when it doesn’t we spin out of control.
YOUR LIFE ISN’T GOING TO BE EASY.
THINGS AREN’T ALWAYS GOING TO BE FAIR.
THIS ISN’T ALWAYS GOING TO BE FUN.
YOU WON’T ALWAYS UNDERSTAND.
SO WHY HAVE YOU ALLOWED THIS TO STEAL YOUR PEACE?
Jesus said in John 16:33 ““I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
Jesus warned us of the realities of this life and the truths of his power. If you cling to that, you will have peace. Trouble will come, but your peace will not be shaken when you remember that Jesus has already overcome every single trouble you will ever face.
Misery is optional. Why would you ever choose it? Why choose to dwell on how bad this trouble sucks? Why wallow in the unfairness of this muddy mess? There’s no peace found in that. You can’t be shocked and shaken by the twists and turns of your story, EVERY STORY has trouble, otherwise it’s not a story.
And God never wastes a single chapter of a good story. He is always present in all these seemingly random, sometimes questionable, often unfavorable and undesirable details of our lives, working them together for good. My favorite scripture, Genesis 50:20 “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”
Guess who said it? That would be Joseph. Guess who he said it to? Yip, the very brothers who sold him when he was 17. It has been 22 years since the betrayal, 13 of which Joseph had spent in prison. But God wasted absolutely NOTHING. He used every detail to bring Joseph to a position of power where 22 years later he would stand face to face with the brothers who betrayed him and be able to save their lives during a famine. And that’s exactly what he did. All that intended harm was turned for good and used to save the lives of many.
Now THAT is a story!
We all love it. We’re inspired by it. And it would have never been told if it would have went the way we would have written it. Big happy families sitting around peaceful tables in perfect homes without a problem in the world for all their days … where’s God’s power at work against intended harm there?
Check your story.
Jesus offers us peace in the middle of the problem. God promised to show up with his power in the middle of that problem.
That’s the story. That’s your story and my story. We don’t have to be miserable on any chapter.
If you have trouble, you are just in the middle of a good story and you can trust the author of your life to use all of this for good that will save many!