Bricks & Faith

David Brinkley, 1920-2003
David Brinkley, 1920-2003

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.

A representation of Joseph's coat of many colors.
A representation of Joseph's coat of many colors.

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.

"Joseph and Potiphar's Wife" by Guido Reni 1631 (Pushkin Museum, Moscow)
"Joseph and Potiphar's Wife" by Guido Reni 1631 (Pushkin Museum, Moscow)

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.

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Comments 16 comments

oldyeller3 7 years ago

Good sharing today, I like David Brinkley's thought “A successful person is one who can lay a firm foundation with the bricks that others throw at him or her.” Nice piecing it together with Joseph. Joseph being human "may" have brooded briefly but scripture does not say. The point being he looked to God and had the hindsight to dust himself off and grow, an example we could all learn from.

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Tina Irene 7 years ago

Ken -

This hub is terrific! It's SO true about bricks and even more true about faith. Thanks for this well-written article on the subject(s).

Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 7 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

Thanks, oldyeller3 a.k.a. danyeller a.k.a a friend of mine. The dusting ourselves off, learning & pressing on is where we grow, isn't it? Blessings to you.

Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 7 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

Thank you, Tina. Blessings to you.

AEvans profile image

AEvans 7 years ago from SomeWhere Out There

Thank you for a well written hub and it seems to me that we were both on the same wave length. I enjoyed this hub immensely. :)

Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 7 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

Thank you, AEvans. Yes, on the same wave-length to be sure. That's what I thought when I read your piece.

DeBorrah K. Ogans profile image

DeBorrah K. Ogans 7 years ago

Ken R. Arbell,

This is wonderful! I have gotten so many bricks thrown at me, I just use them to strengthen my foundation and build up my FAITH! LOL This was well written and quite enjoyable

Thanks for sharing!


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 7 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

Thank you, DeBorrah. Very glad you enjoyed it. Blessings to you.

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Brenda Durham 7 years ago

Awesome hub; love it; Amen to it.

Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 7 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

Thanks, Brenda.

desperadotoo profile image

desperadotoo 7 years ago

Very nice observation Ken. I am curious to know if these are origonal thoughts or do you receive them from other sources...I remember when I was deacon in the Catholic church I subscribed to a newsletter that had sample Homilies/sermons and I am curious to know if this is the case with you also..Keep up the good work.

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Ken R. Abell 7 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

Thanks for the comments, desperadotoo. Mostly original thoughts...I think. :>)

Since I do not write in a vacuum, I have likely borrowed, adapted or taken an idea from everyone I have ever read or listened to; I have been writing, reading, thinking, dialoging & working through faith & life issues for most of my life, often with great intention & purpose.

A phrase like Brinkley's observation or a line from a song will trigger a flood of ideas & sorting through them is the process of writing that absolutely inflames me.

Thank you for reading; thanks especially for your words of encouragement. Very much appreciated.

Godslittlechild profile image

Godslittlechild 7 years ago

So much truth here. Great hub!

Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 7 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

Godslittlechild - Thank you for your encouragement. Blessings to you.

PinanShodan 7 years ago

Hi Ken,

Once again another great article. Yes, you know all the bricks that I have had thrown at me over the years isn't it amazing how all of those bricks in the past can become our greatest assets and strengthen's us to help others if we allow Jesus to be in the pilot's seat. Thank You :-)

Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 7 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

PinanShodan - Thanks for stopping by & sharing. Blessings & encouragement to you.

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