I have a notion that most of us like change. That is — we like it when it’s our idea. When we handpick the who, what, when, and where of change, it feels fresh and exciting. We wear it like a new outfit from the store, the kind we’ve had our eye on for a while but only recently purchased because of a helpful price markdown. That’s the kind of change that makes us want to twirl in front of the mirror.
But then there’s the kind of change that is not your idea, and it comes like a fountain pen leaking all over that new outfit. You stop twirling and start panicking, thoughts swirling in your mind:
“No! I want it the way it was before!”
“This will not do!”
“How can I fix this?”
All too often, difficult change brings a truckload of sorrow well beyond a fountain pen to a dress.
At those times, change feels more like someone took a pair of scissors to your dress, or rather a pair of scissors to your heart.
Joseph of the Old Testament, a man whose story has more twists and turns than a Six Flags roller coaster, knew a thing or two about this kind of change. One of twelve sons born to Jacob, Joseph was the not-so-fair-haired golden boy favorite son. As told in Genesis 37, Joseph liked to use his VIP status to cause trouble. Whether recounting his dreams that placed him in a superior position over his brothers or showing off elaborate clothing he received from his dad, his actions fueled the fires of jealousy with his competitive brothers.
It didn’t take long for his siblings to get sick and tired of Joseph and his arrogant behavior. Wanting to silence Joseph once and for all, they discussed killing him but settled instead on throwing him into an empty cistern. Ignoring Joseph’s cries of protest, his brothers eventually sold him to merchants passing through the area on their way to Egypt.
Talk about your transformations. Joseph found himself thrown into circumstances testing the furthest limits of change. Golden son to unknown kid. Favorable position to detestable situation. Wealthy family member to penniless servant slave. Best-dressed winner to worst-dressed loser. He may have started out in a literal pit, but he was thrown into a symbolic one much deeper and darker than he could have imagined.
What about you? Where are the furthest limits your own change has thrown you? Deep debt? Deep despair? Unimaginable loneliness? Did you cry out, beg for help, only to hear the rush of wind blowing in the trees? Did you recount a poor decision or two you made that might have contributed to the change? Did you feel utterly abandoned?
Hold on to Joseph’s story, which is lavish with hope.
You see, while Joseph began his time in Egypt as a slave, he ended it as Pharaoh’s right hand man.
Years after being thrown into the cistern, he could see that what God planned was to throw him into the chief role as the saving grace of Egypt — and as the saving grace of the same family who ignored his cries. Joseph’s family may have been absent in his time of need, but Joseph could see God was always present.
Joseph could see how God used change to rewrite his story for the better.
No, the story doesn’t end low in a pit for Joseph. It doesn’t end with him enslaved to unwelcome change.
And you know what? It won’t end there for you either.
When your outside circumstances change — either drastically like Joseph’s or in a less dramatic fashion — your story will not end there. It won’t end in devastation but redemption. Believe that the God who changed Joseph’s pit of despair to a mountaintop of deliverance has in mind to do the exact same thing with your own.
No, this difficult change is not the end.
God’s grace and goodness are.
Together, may we gather hope as we listen, learn, and believe.
Going through a difficult life change? Let Kristen Strong’s just-released-book, Girl Meets Change, meet you at the crossroads of your own sense of anxiety with God’s sense of purpose.
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