Tag Archives: Wholeness

Purpose in the Pain

Joseph is raised from prison to prominence as the biblical story is retold in “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.”

Chapter-a-Day Psalm 66

You brought us into prison and laid burdens on our backs. You let people ride over our heads; we went through fire and water, but you brought us to a place of abundance.
Psalm 66:11-12 (NIV)

Wendy and I are in production week for Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. The award-winning Broadway musical retells the story of Joseph (Genesis 37-47), the famed little brother who was given a dream that he would rise to greatness and all of his brothers would bow down to him. His older siblings responded to Joseph’s dream in typical fashion by throwing him into a well and then selling him into slavery. Though his father was told he was dead, Joseph was actually taken to Egypt where he was put to work in the house of prominent local official. After a brief stint of success in his job, Joseph was wrongfully accused by his master’s wife and put into prison. Talk about a string of bad fortune.

Through the long weeks of production, Wendy and I have constantly ruminated on the story of Joseph. I can only imagine the cynicism and anger Joseph must have felt rotting in the Egyptian prison. For years and years and years his dreams of greatness had proven to be nothing more than pipe dreams. One bad turn after another appears to lead Joseph further and further away from the dream God gave him as a boy. It seems so unfair for God to give a promise of incredible blessing, then immediately lead Joseph down a marathon road of suffering.

Of course, Joseph’s misfortune proves to be God’s divine providence in the end. In prison, Joseph gains a reputation for having a knack with dreams. Circumstance brings him before Pharaoh who was having some confusing dreams about an upcoming famine. Pharaoh is so impressed with Joseph that he raises him to a place of unparalleled prominence and puts him in charge of getting the nation ready for the upcoming famine. I’ll let you guess or read the rest (or buy a ticket and see the show over the next two weekends). Joseph’s long, hard road was actually preparing him for leadership, honing his character, and putting him in just the right circumstance to save his family.

I was reminded once again of Joseph’s incredible story when I read David’s lyrics from Psalm 66 this morning. Joseph’s biography, along with David’s, remind us that God’s ultimate purpose for us is often at the end of a tough road. Wendy and I can bear witness to this simple spiritual principle as we see it at work in our own lives. The truth is, we want the blessing without the burden. We want the pleasure without the pain. Yet, God’s purpose is for our spiritual maturity and wholeness, and that does not come without a price.

Today, I’m thankful for the hard roads I’ve trekked on this life journey. They haven’t been easy or fun, but they have been both necessary and beneficial. It is what it is.

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:6-7 (NIV)

Chapter-a-Day Isaiah 26

Peace & wholeness. God, order a peaceful and whole life for us because everything we've done, you've done for us. Isaiah 26:12 (MSG)

I spent a good part of my day yesterday listening to a person share their life story. I'm often astonished at what people will tell you when you simply start asking questions. I sat amazed at the tale that unfolded before me. It was tragic. You would have never guess that this person's journey included events of murder, abuse, addiction, and intense brokenness.

I walked away from the conversation with a greater appreciation of this person and all that they have endured. I also walked away with a renewed appreciation for how very blessed I am.

I know that every life is touched with tragedy and pain. My own path has included its share of brokenness. Your path has, too. I get that. Yet, more and more I understand how truly, lavishly blessed I am. As I read today's chapter in Isaiah, I identified with what Isaiah meant when he wrote that everything we've done, God has done for us. It's not about me. It's not about what I've done. It's about what God has done. His will, His order for us is peace and wholeness.

Today, I walk in gratitude for what God has done for me.

Creative Commons photo courtesy of Flickr and audreyjm