Bricks & Faith
Life Is Hard
The late newsman David Brinkley was exactly correct when he said: “A successful person is one who can lay a firm foundation with the bricks that others throw at him or her.”
Life is hard; getting hit by bricks is all part of it. Difficulties are the norm; life can be a rollercoaster ride with unfair ups and downs over which we have absolutely no control. In the midst of hairpin turns, bricks get hurled at us, flying in from directions we seldom expect. No one gets a free pass from hardships or sorrows.
Some critics and conflicts threaten to knock us off course, but our attitude can steer us straight. Our approach makes all the difference, for it is our response to events that determines our character. We grow through the tough times by developing faith and wisdom to understand that God works all things together for his purposes.
A Refining Process
Consider the Biblical story of Joseph for it teaches us some deep truths about life. He had a great many bricks thrown at him. He experienced the uncertainty of troubles as injustice coiled itself around him. Instead of becoming spiteful or angry, his sufferings were a refining process that strengthened his faith and increased his knowledge of God. Our choice to trust God when darkness envelops us will temper us in the same way.
Joseph was seventeen when we are first introduced to him and he was not far removed from any modern-day teen-ager; spoiled, proud, headstrong, self-centered and talking loud. After all, he was Joseph, son of Jacob, grandson of Isaac, great-grandson of Abraham. His father openly favored him over his brothers. The flames of sibling rivalry were stoked when the patriarch gave Joseph a “richly ornamented robe”, which came to be called a coat of many colors.
Joseph was caught in a firestorm of volatile envy that his boastful demeanor inflamed. His brothers demonstrated an ugly manifestation of ego gone haywire. An all-consuming jealousy settled into them and gave root to a conniving plot. Blinded to reason, a murderous rage swelled within them. Joseph was grabbed up, stripped of his special garment and then lowered into a waterless well to await his execution.
Conscience & Caravans
Second thoughts began percolating amongst the conspirators when a group of traders happened along: “What will we gain if we kill our brother and cover up his blood? Come, let’s sell him to the Ishmaelites and not lay our hands on him; after all, he is our brother, our own flesh and blood.”
Only God involved both in conscience and in the timing of the caravan of merchants prevented the brothers from fulfilling their intentions to commit fratricide. God shapes conscience and caravans and all things to accomplish his objectives.
Though just as we do not detect God in the perplexing realities of our lives, it is highly doubtful that Joseph recognized God’s presence as his life was flipped upside down. He had gone from being a prince in his father’s household to a dry cistern prison to the shackles of a slave.
Character & Perspective
In Egypt, Joseph was sold to Potiphar, one of Pharoah’s officials. Things went well for a short while. Put in charge of Potiphar’s household he tended to his duties with diligence, but then another brick came hurtling out of nowhere.
Falsely accused of attempting to rape Potiphar’s wife, he was imprisoned. He could have languished in that jail, but brooding or blame wasn’t in him; he could have easily played the victimization or the poor pitiful me card but he did not.
The bricks that might have destroyed him were used to harness his pride and prepare him for the role God had for him. The betrayal by his brothers, followed by the degradation of slavery, false accusations and years of imprisonment could have embittered him.
Instead, all the trials were fashioned together to instill in him a God-centered perspective. The narrative is quite clear; God’s hand was active in Joseph’s life: “The Lord was with Joseph” is a constant theme.
A series of divine appointments delivered Joseph from that dungeon; he emerged with his faith and character unscathed to become Prime Minister of Egypt. From that position of influence God used him to preserve the Hebrew people and save lives that otherwise would have been devastated by a terrible famine.
God Is Sovereign
God has absolute rank, power and authority. His plans are not dictated by human action or inaction. His designs may be hidden by the circumstances of our lives, but he is God and he is at work. Faith in the One who loves us with an everlasting love is what forges character in the refining process.
In response to the bricks tossed at us, may we always have the grace to exercise faith in the One who is sovereign over all of history.
- Wanted Man
Wanted Man a.k.a. Ken R. Abell, seeks to be a blessing to others. He's a rake, a rambler, and a teller of tales who understands that there is strength in a story well told and well lived. To learn more, inquire or schedule him, visit this web site.
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