What If’s and If Only’s

It was twilight, and he needed to be alone. God calling his father home had been an emotional journey. He needed the stillness of the night to quiet his raw emotions and reflect on all that had happened.

Joseph wearily laid back on the soft grass admiring the many stars in the sky. He often found himself trying to count them all. Eventually, out of habit, his mind traveled back to the time when he told his family about his dream of the sun, moon, and eleven stars bowing down to him. He closed his eyes and relived telling his brothers that he had dreamed about their bundles of grain bowing down to his. Immediately, his eyes flew open underneath a furrowed brow as he pictured their angry faces. It was that self-centered pride of his that turned his life into one of perpetual trouble. He understood that now and continually lived with the what if’s and if only’s.

As though the curtain of a play had slowly risen, the highlights of his life meandered across the stage of his mind one act at a time. He had been rejected and betrayed by his family, sold into slavery, accosted and spitefully accused by someone more powerful than him, wrongly imprisoned, forgotten, and abandoned. However, this time as he grieved and ruminated on his life, he noticed a Man in every act – a man he’d not noticed before. This Man seemed to enjoy staying out of the spotlight, but He always kept the play moving along in the right direction. Joseph noticed the Man sitting with him in the bottom of the well his brothers had tossed him into. The same Man stayed with him the entire time he was shackled with Midianite chains. Though the Man spoke softly, He offered some quiet reassurance, “When you’re hurting, I want you to know that you’ll never have to hurt alone. When your faith is running low I’ll never lose faith in you.” 

When the next act opened, the same Man was standing right there next to Joseph as he was wrongly accused and convicted. He put his arm around Joseph’s shoulders, pulled him close, and then leaned toward his ear, whispering, “When you think that all the odds are all against you, and you just feel like giving up, well, I won’t let you. Through whatever you go through, I’m standing with you.”

Tears began to roll down Joseph’s cheeks as he realized he had never ever been alone. This new Friend had always been with him. He remembered feeling comforted by an unexplainable peace. He didn’t know where it came from, but he was sure he’d heard a voice deep within reminding him, “We all have times when we can’t be strong – when it feels like all hope is gone. But, I’m right here to lean on. I’ll always be strong for you.” Suddenly, he realized that it was this still small voice of his newly discovered Friend that had been renewing his strength and faith all along – one act at a time! Every single scene of every single act had been used for good. 

That realization changed everything! His focus quickly shifted from grief to glory, from rejection to love, from alone to befriended, and from insecure to confident. Instead of ruminating on the past and counting the stars in the sky, Joseph’s new habit became counting the blessings in his life. 

Why is it often easier to think on all the things that went wrong, are wrong, or could go wrong? We ruminate on all the negative things we’ve ever done, said, or thought, and respond with, “If only I hadn’t …” We condemn ourselves and shackle our joy. We get into such a habit of stinkin’ thinkin’ that other people avoid us to get away from the stench. 

Since it’s so easy to think about our past mistakes, why not go back and place Jesus in every sad scenario? After all, He was there all along; we just didn’t always look His way. Let’s allow Him to change our perspective. I would love for you to play the song at the end of this post. Then, sit back and remember the things you can’t forget. But this time, instead of beating yourself up or wishing things had been different, picture Jesus with you. Notice His arm around your shoulders, pulling you close – loving you, protecting you, and comforting you. Imagine Him singing these words over you in the middle of your struggle. Enjoying the presence of Jesus is so worth four minutes of your time. 

“BUT THE LORD WAS WITH JOSEPH in the prison and showed him his faithful love. And the Lord made Joseph a favorite with the prison warden. Before long, the warden put Joseph in charge of all the other prisoners and over everything that happened in the prison. The warden had no more worries, because Joseph took care of everything. THE LORD WAS WITH HIM and caused everything he did to succeed.” (Genesis 39:21-23 NLT, emphasis mine)

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