Ever since my kids were babies my husband, when he is home, has read them a bedtime story. My older two have reached the stage now where most young people have grown out of this habit but it has been such a precious part of our family life that none of us are quite ready to let it go. The challenge now is agreeing on which book to read – as they grow older they grow different literary preferences and finding a book that Daddy is prepared to read and our 2 very different daughters are willing to listen to is not always easy. Last night was one of those nights – scanning the book shelf for an acceptable candidate. Bill Bryson had already been tried and rejected. Little Women has been consumed by one daughter multiple times. No-one but Dad likes Douglas Adams. One is voting for The Silmarillion while the other rolls her eyes. Then I notice Grandma’s Anne of Green Gables complete set. I know the oldest read it a couple of years ago but it might work? Although she really enjoyed the set (and devoured it at the time) she is not sure that her sister will cope with it – “it’s just too sad.” Now my second daughter, with her huge heart and huge imagination, does have a tendency to get quite emotionally engaged with stories but I think that a bit of drama, sorrow, difficulty and even grief is an important part of what stories do. Watching your favourite character struggle, face injustice, feel pain in the safety of a book (especially one being read by Daddy) plays an important role in preparing us for life. You see real life will bring my kids face to face with hardship, rejection, sorrow, hatred, injustice…. they could choose to avoid reading about it now but they will not be able to avoid facing it in reality.
Joseph has faced more than his fair share of these challenges so far – bullying, rejection, violence, slavery, slander, injustice, emprisonment, loneliness, abandonment…. and now at last the emotion of it all overwhelms him.
Then Joseph could no longer control himself before all his attendants, and he cried out, ‘Make everyone leave my presence!’ So there was no one with Joseph when he made himself known to his brothers. And he wept so loudly that the Egyptians heard him, and Pharaoh’s household heard about it. Gen 45:1-2
At last Joseph comes clean with his brothers and, with loud sobs, tells them who he really is. They are, understandably, terrified but Joseph draws them close and tells them “It wasn’t you who sent me here but God.”
And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you. Gen 45:5
How can this be? In their jealousy and hatred they beat up their brother, sold him as a slave, lied to their father and broke his heart. For years they lived with the regret, the guilt and shame of what they had done. And now face to face with the brother they thought was dead – and he tells them God was Sovereign over this and out of their mess God has brought about good. God took their sin against Joseph and used it to postition Joseph to save thousands, entire nations, from famine and starvation. Indeed even Joseph’s own family were saved.
I might be like Jacob and want to protect my kids from suffering and sadness but I can’t. Life involves death. Feeling involves hurting. Freedom to choose will sometime mean making the wrong choice. But here is our great comfort – God is bigger than it all and He works all things together for our good and for His glory.
The mind-blowing concept of our absolute free will, including our right to choose sin, and yet God’s sovereignty just makes me realise how little of Him I have yet discovered and how much bigger and more incredible He is than my puny brain can begin to comprehend. Even our most hideous moments, utter sinfulness and worst failures God takes them and turns them over and weaves them into His incredible redemption story.
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written:‘For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.’ No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:35-39
Nothing can seperate you from His love today – not any injustice done to you, not any way you yourself have failed. His story is the best story ever written. And whatever your tale looks like today, whether you are in a scene full of danger or a chapter full of heartbreak, whether you are setting out on adventure or battling a foe, the Author of Life has a Happily Every After written for you. He is Sovereign over us.
Thanks for reading. Much love Rach x