We--God's masterpieces--have been created with amazing potentials! We consider ourselves fortunate when everything goes well, and life is easy. But just as our bodies get flabby and weak when not physically challenged, too many "good things" are not always good for us .
This week, we are looking at Joseph. He had the good life. He was the favorite son of a loving and prosperous father. He didn't have this because of his own accomplishments. The coattails he was riding on--literally in this case--came from being the son of his father's first love and favorite wife.
God had given him dreams--which sounded like good news, but the first thing Joseph did was perhaps the last thing he should have done. The tradition we have doesn't say if he was naive, or bratty, or what possessed him to do what he did, but telling his brothers, who already had a really bad attitude about him, does not seem like a wise thing.
However, God can be sneaky. He's also much smarter than we are, and is not time-bound in the ways that we are. And He knows that by ourselves, we are fundamentally self-centered and stubborn, and it often requires breaking up the world we know to make us open to change. We don't know what was going through Joseph's mind as he faced possible death in that pit, or on that journey to Egypt, but we do know what he did: made the best of the situation he found himself in. Rather than wallowing in self-pity and doing the bare minimum required to keep the lash off his back, he accepted the opportunity to learn how to manage an estate.
Human psychology has not changed in four thousand years! The story of Joseph illustrates something I saw on an Internet news posting yesterday:
An emerging field of psychology called post-traumatic growth is suggesting that many people are able to use their hardships and early-life trauma for substantial creative growth. Specifically, researchers have found that trauma can help people to grow in the areas of interpersonal relationships, spirituality, appreciation of life, personal strength, and -- most importantly for creativity -- seeing new possibilities in life. "A lot of people are able to use that as the fuel they need to come up with a different perspective on reality, What's happened is that their view of the world as a safe place, or as a certain type of place, has been shattered at some point in their life, causing them to go on the periphery and see things in a new, fresh light…" (Huffington Post, 03/05/14)
God often uses the pits in our lives to get our attention and turn our smug self-sufficiency into God-sufficiency. Yes, we can, to an extent, pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps, but He can make more of us than we can make of ourselves.