Christians try really hard to honor God, to remain grateful and humble, to be patient and trust and rely on Him. But the truth is, even when you do all that, life can still really suck sometimes. *Gasp!* I know, it’s not cool to admit that in certain circles. Some modern Christian churches preach a God that takes away all pain and suffering if you just have enough faith. But the truth is, our God allows suffering. He lets life suck sometimes. Check out the life of Joseph:
In Genesis, before Joseph became the greatest man in Egypt next to Pharoah, he had some pretty horrible life experiences. His own brothers plotted to kill him and threw him into a pit to die. Then they sold him into slavery. Joseph made the best of life as a slave to Potiphar, and the Bible goes so far as to say that the Lord was with him and blessed him with success in everything he did in that role, but I can imagine that he would have preferred to be back in his father’s house and not a slave in a foreign land. Instead of going home, his situation got worse: he was falsely accused of rape by Potiphar’s wife and thrown in prison. Even then, scripture says that the Lord was with Joseph and made him the warden’s favorite. But he was still in prison! And he was there a while. We learn that he was there for “some time” when Pharoah’s cup bearer and baker got locked up and put in his charge. And then they remained in prison for “some time” before they had dreams that Joseph, through God’s gift, was able to interpret. And lest you think Joseph had become accustomed to his surroundings and was really okay where he was, look at what he told the cup bearer:
And please remember me and do me a favor when things go well for you. Mention me to Pharaoh, so he might let me out of this place. For I was kidnapped from my homeland, the land of the Hebrews, and now I’m here in prison, but I did nothing to deserve it. ~ Genesis 40:14-15 NLT
The baker was killed and the cup bearer was restored to his former position. What happened next?
Pharaoh’s chief cup-bearer, however, forgot all about Joseph, never giving him another thought.
I don’t know about you, but I would have been pretty dadgum depressed at that point. I would have felt alone, abandoned, forgotten and forsaken by God. Even though scripture tells us repeatedly that God was with Joseph, I can imagine that it sure wouldn’t have felt like it.
Two more years later — TWO YEARS! — Pharoah had dreams that he couldn’t understand which led to Joseph being called upon to interpret them and to be placed in charge of all Egypt. From that position of power and responsibility and (no doubt) luxury and comfort, he saved the whole country and ultimately his family.
The end result was perfect, but man alive that was a LOT of hardship to endure before Joseph got there. There’s a lot that can be said about the fact that God was always with Joseph, that God remained in control, that God worked it all to His good purpose in the end, and that is not to be discounted. But sometimes it’s good just to know that we’re not alone. Joseph, Jonah, Noah, Peter, Stephen, Paul… so many of God’s chosen endured hardship. We are to trust in God, but what are we trusting Him to do? We know that he will allow suffering in our lives, so we can’t trust that he will necessarily make all hardship disappear right when we want. Sometimes life is just going to suck. On those days, I might pray a prayer like this:
God, this sucks. I don’t know why you’re allowing this to happen in my life. I wish you would take it away. I wish you would deliver me from this. I don’t like that you’re allowing this to happen to me and to my family. I don’t think it’s fair that we have to go through this and yet so many around us who don’t honor and follow and trust you seem to have it so easy. But I trust in this: You are good. You are in control. You won’t give me more than I can take. This will all work out eventually to your good purpose. Please forgive me and help me with my complaints and my selfish, jealous grumblings. Please give me strength to endure faithfully. Give me endurance in suffering that works to your glory and draws others to you. Amen.