Happy are those who are strong in the Lord who set their minds on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. When they walk through the Valley of Weeping it will become a place of refreshing springs where pools of blessing collect after the rains.
Psalms, that’s where this whole thing started. This decision to be honest with God about everything, even if I think I’m saying something he’d rather not hear. But the deal is God is love, he is forgiveness, redemption, and, ultimately, the source of our peace. So I can’t find a better place to start with than him.
A few weeks ago, after receiving a good offer from a local healthcare system, my husband was told that they were now rescinding their offer. And like that, in the blink of an eye, he was unemployed . . . again. The who’s and how’s and why’s don’t matter. In the end what matters is that my family is going through a crisis, and we’re left hurting and reeling from this horrible situation that we have no control over.
The first thing I thought, “God, why?” Isn’t that the question it always ultimately comes down to? “God why?” Then I get mad at myself for doubting God. I want to do the right thing, the ultimately good thing to do, but the truth is I’m not sure I can--be okay that is, okay with what’s happened, okay with what the future holds. I’m not okay and today I’m deciding that not being okay is an okay place to be.
The Bible story that came to me when I was contemplating all of this it’s okay to not be okay business was the story of Joseph—the guy who got sold into slavery by his own brothers. He was led down as a slave to Egypt where he served in the household of an Egyptian elitist and eventually gained a reputation for bringing only good to his master’s house. Then a greedy and conniving woman got him fired and jailed when she claimed he tried to rape her.
There Joseph goes back to the bottom of the barrel. Surely he had to have been reeling from such news. Did he wonder: ‘God why? Why me? Why now? I thought you were doing something here, something good. First I lose my family, my life, my freedom, and everything I knew about the world. Then you let me rise to the top only to approve my demise. Now I live in prison with no hope of parole.’
Those are questions I would have asked if I had been Joseph. Those are the questions burning in my heart now. God why?
Eventually, Joseph is freed from prison and becomes second in command to Pharaoh himself. And when those brothers who betrayed him come begging for mercy, he not only forgives them, he releases them from any retribution:
Genesis 45:3-4 I am Joseph your brother whom you sold into Egypt. But don’t be angry with yourselves that you did this to me, for God did it. He sent me here ahead of you to preserve your lives. . . Yes it was God who sent me here, not you!
Did you catch that? God did it. You know we blame God for the bad things that happen to us and here is the proof. Joseph says to his brothers, “God did it.”
But Joseph isn’t accusatory in saying this about God. No, Joseph sees the big picture now that the nightmare he lived out has finally come to an end. You see a famine has hit the area, a seven year famine. Because of some dreams and good foresight, Joseph has been in charge of storing up enough grain to last through those seven years of famine.
The famine is so serious that it stretches and reaches the area where Joseph’s entire family faces death by starvation. The same brothers who sold him into slavery are forced to travel to Egypt to beg for help. Eventually, what Joseph provides them with is more than enough, and Joseph’s entire family is saved.
In the end, Joseph blames God and he’s right, but for the first time he realizes an important truth. God brought the situation about to save his family. God did it.
Now, I am sitting here in this place between trust and doubt, bitterness and forgiveness, faith and unbelief. All places I’ve been before. Much as Joseph, much as Job, I sit here wondering, God why? I don’t have any answers really, and maybe that’s okay.
It’s okay to not be okay. That’s where I am right now, and that’s where I’ll stand. And that’s where I’ll write about being. I’m not okay and that’s okay.
Psalm 33:4 For the word of the Lord holds true, and everything he does is worthy of our trust.