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Posts Tagged ‘seasons of life’

Blooming in winter

This morning I was walking through the rain to get to my car when I noticed flowers in bloom. Their petals looked like arms open wide in the midst of the grey, rainy day. I was inspired by something so simply beautiful. I want to bloom in the rain. No matter the weather, wherever I’m planted, I want to lift my face to the sky and smile because I’m alive.

I’ve been reading Joseph’s story. His brothers sold him to Ishmaelite traders and he was purchased by an Egyptian officer named Potiphar, who happened to be captain of the guard for Pharaoh. Since the Lord was with Joseph, he “succeeded in everything he did as he served” (Gen. 39:2) and “the Lord began to bless Potiphar’s household for Joseph’s sake.” (v. 5) Because the Lord was with him, Joseph bloomed where he was planted.

Just when things were looking up, he was falsely accused of attempted rape and thrown into prison. Joseph sat in the prison after doing nothing wrong for years. But again, despite the season, he bloomed where he was planted. “The Lord made Joseph a favorite with the prison warden. Before long, the warden put Joseph in charge of all the other prisoners and over everything that happened in the prison.” (v. 21-22)

Through a series of fortunate events orchestrated by God, Pharaoh put Joseph “in charge of the entire land of Egypt” (41:41) and exclaimed, “Can we find anyone else like this man so obviously filled with the Spirit of God?” (v. 38)

When we are stuck in a lowly position, when we are suffering unjust treatment, and when we feel trapped in a circumstance, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.” (1 Peter 5:6) Because the Lord is with us like he was with Joseph, and because we can be filled with his Spirit, we can bloom wherever we are planted.

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There are seasons of life when you feel comfortable with God. You daily walk with him and talk openly with him. You know him, and feel known by him. It’s such sweet communion when life is a garden. But then something happens. You pick a rose and a thorn pierces your hand. You try to remove it, but it’s in too deep. You bleed. Things that were once pleasant now hurt just to touch. Once you’ve had enough you cry out to God. What hurts worse than the damage done is the feeling that you’re alone. Forgotten. Sure, God knows you exist, but is he really responsible for this? If he really knew what you were going through, wouldn’t he come to the rescue? You thought you knew him, but now you’re confused. He must be good and loving… you’re still convinced. Your blood can’t be pointless, yet it bleeds for what reason? A good explanation could at least mean consolation. God forbid that you ache day after day because of some cosmic accident. Or even because of your own mistake, leaving yourself to blame. But whatever the reason, God is mighty to save. But for whatever reason, you still feel the pain.

This morning I read the story of how God rescued Lot moments before he utterly destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19). Two angels literally pulled Lot, his wife, and his two daughters away from the city by hand. They were specifically warned not to stop or look back. While running, they must have smelled the sulfur and fire raining out of heaven and heard the screams of the people. Lot must have been shocked by God’s mercy in saving his family, and then in a moment his own wife looks back and turns to salt. In a moment, she was gone. There was no time to stop and no chance to say goodbye. She was the rose he picked without expecting the thorn.

Lot must have been torn between the God who just took his wife, and the God who just saved his life. How could they be one in the same? How could he do both on the same day? It reminds me of what C. S. Lewis said, that God is good, but that doesn’t mean he’s safe.

Though God is not conflicted in character and never neglects one attribute to practice another, there is tension between how we think he should act and how he does act. We know who he is, we just don’t know how he is who he is. Just like it’s hard to see evil for what it is, it’s hard to see goodness. We see pieces. We develop our own definitions.

When we realize that God is not as predictable or comfortable as we once thought, we tend to get silent. But relationships need communication. And God is not afraid of our questions. He welcomes them. The best way to get to know someone is to ask them questions. Basic questions. Hard questions. Any questions. Asking questions keeps us honest, humble, and helps us to remember there’s a lot we still don’t know.

Proverbs 2
3 Cry out for insight,
and ask for understanding.
4 Search for them as you would for silver;
seek them like hidden treasures.
5 Then you will understand what it means to fear the Lord,
and you will gain knowledge of God.
6 For the Lord grants wisdom!
From his mouth come knowledge and understanding.

Every season of confusion is a chance to get to know God in a way we never would have, had he done the predictable thing. Confusion means he is revealing himself as he is, and he is infinitely better than we can imagine.

But when he doesn’t seem better than we thought, when he seems worse because we’ve been hurt, remember Jesus’ words, “Blessed is the one who is not offended by me.” (Matthew 11:6) When we are offended, or silenced by confusion, or overwhelmed with questions, it is better to come to God as we are than not to come at all. Just because he has been tough doesn’t mean he isn’t just as full of love and compassion. And just because he is not comfortable doesn’t mean he isn’t comforting. He is revealing himself as he is.

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