In the midst of…

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Last week Tim and I attended a Conference, one night we went out for dinner after the meeting, had a great time with old and new friends, then headed back to our car which we had parked on one of the main streets in Sydney. As we neared our car, Tim asked if I had the keys, to which I replied “No”… We soon realised that we had left our car keys on a seat inside the Conference Centre, which was now, at 11:30pm, completely dark, locked up and isolated! Options started racing through my head about what we could do, a) ring someone for help, but being so late we didn’t want to bother anyone b) catch a taxi home, but who’s got a spare hundred lying around – not us! c) sleep on the streets, yeah scrap that! d) catch a bus home…ok best option so far.

Story goes: we checked what zone the car was parked in – Clearway from 6am – brilliant. We then walked for what seemed like forever to get to the correct bus stop, caught the 12:20am bus and arrived home around 1am. The next dilemma…the clearway… Tim, bless him, took the spare key, caught the 1:40am bus back into the City, then drove the car home and crawled into bed at around 4am!!!

I would love to say that during this ordeal we were full of faith and joy but that would be a LIE!! Truth is, this was just another thing to add to the list of trials we’ve faced lately! It’s been one of those “coming at us from all angles” seasons, and surprisingly (or not surprisingly?) it seems that a lot of people have been in a similar space. It seems like many, many people are facing trials and hard times, from sickness to financial strain to relational issues and more. It has made me wonder what God is up to, whether He is building resilience in His Church, strengthening our resolve, perhaps it’s a season of seeing what is truly in us, or a season of persecution on the Church, I don’t know, I definitely don’t have the answers, I don’t think there is one answer as every situation is so different – other than the answer of Jesus Christ!

This morning I was reading through some of the life of Joseph, I just pulled a few thoughts from it and wanted to share them with you today and hopefully encourage you (and myself!) to keep on keeping on!

Genesis 39v10 ‘although she (Potiphar’s wife) spoke to Joseph day after day, he refused to go to bed with her’

The accuser, the tempter, the enemy, will come at you day after day, throwing all sorts your way, wearing you down, exhausting your resolve, willing you to give in, to give up, to let him win. Like Joseph though, we need to REFUSE! Refuse to give up no matter how hard it gets, refuse to give in no matter how tempting it might seem, refuse to let the enemy win. And remember, you don’t need to fight this in your own strength, The Lord your God is with you and if He is for you then who can be against you! To be honest, I have never felt like giving in as much as I have lately, but it has actually awakened my Spirit – what is on my life that the fight is this intense? It must be good! I know God has called me, set me apart, has things that He needs me to do for Him and so I REFUSE to give in, I REFUSE to give up, I will fight this fight – remembering that we are fighting the spiritual powers not flesh and blood! Same goes for you, if there is a fight for your life, your call, your health, your finances – there is more at stake than you realise – stay strong and keep fighting the good fight of faith!

Genesis 39v20-23 Joseph was put in jail! Sometimes it can get worse before it gets better, sometimes even though we are doing the right thing and refusing to give in, things can get worse and look like a dungeon of darkness, but God is still on the throne, He is still Sovereign, He is and always will be our Deliverer!

Even in these times, in the darkest of nights and in the pit of despair, God wants to put favour on our lives, to exalt us in our place of humility and trust in Him. In these times, what is truly in you will rise, the leadership on Joseph’s life rose even in the prison and He was put in charge even in the dungeon! In this hour, keep your heart soft, keep your spirit sweet and let the favour of God rest on you, allow the goodness of God and the character within you to rise and shine!

Genesis 40v6-7 Joseph ‘saw that they looked distraught,’ The challenge in this season is to still be others focused, but I believe it is one of the greatest keys to getting through! When we take our eyes off of our own circumstance and we look to Jesus and we look around us at what others are facing, it truly helps! It gives God room to move in our lives as we extend our hand to others. No matter how busy we get or how hard our life is, PEOPLE need to remain a priority in our lives! God loves people and so should we, He always wants to use us to be a blessing in other’s lives, even in our own season of hardship!

What are you seeing in those around you? Do you see the needs of others or are you too focused on your own needs? Joseph ASKED the officers what was wrong, I encourage you today to look around, to see people, to ask how they are, to ask if you can pray for them – even if you can’t do anything else, you can absolutely pray! Don’t allow this trial you are in to cause you to lose your sight and your vision. God wants to use your life no matter what season you are in.

Genesis 41v1 TWO YEARS LATER!! Joseph had been completely forgotten about – by everyone except God! It wasn’t a short journey, I don’t know how long your journey has been, but I implore you to keep holding on to Him, He hasn’t forgotten about you! We then see the following unfold:

Genesis 41v14 Joseph was invited in before Pharaoh, so he shaved and he changed his clothes. He could have gone in exactly as he was, sending a message of suffering, neglect, lack… But instead he got rid of the old, he changed his countenance and his appearance and went in smelling sweet and looking good! I encourage you to continue to look after yourself during your trial; with nutrition, exercise, enough sleep – but not too much, plenty of water etc, but also look after yourself spiritually, stay in the Word, spend time in prayer, keep attending Church and stay in fellowship with other people – we need people in our lives in the good and the bad! If there are people who have hurt you, check your spirit and your ‘appearance’ (inner and outer) when you see them, be quick to forgive through the power of the Holy Spirit. And don’t allow the experiences of life to leave a permanent stain on your life, sure there might be some physical scars from the battle that you can do nothing about, but you can decide what your inner self, your heart and attitude looks like, you can choose to shave off the ugliness and the hurt and bitterness, you can choose to change your emotions. All through the power of Jesus, it is possible!

Genesis 41v16 Joseph said to Pharaoh ‘I am not able to interpret your dream, it is God who will give Pharaoh a favourable answer.’ In all of this, through the darkness, the dungeon, the unfairness, the lonliness, being forgotten about…after it all, Joseph still gave glory to God!

We are often so quick to blame God, or be annoyed with Him or feel neglected by Him, but oh what a challenge to continually and constantly give the glory to Him even when it doesn’t feel like a very “glorious” situation!!

Finally in Genesis 41v38 Pharaoh says about Joseph, “Can we find anyone like this, a man who has the spirit of God in him?”

Joseph didn’t have the spirit of bitterness in him, the spirit of neglect in him, the spirit of hurt in him, the spirit of unfairness in him… He had the spirit of God in him!

What do people say of us in our trials, when we are facing hard times? Can they look at us and say “He/She has the spirit of God in them”? Will we make it through with the spirit of God in us? How can they tell? Because we are vulnerable with those close to us about the hard time, but through it all we still lift our hands in worship, we still come to Church, the majority (cos lets face it, none of us are perfect!) of words that flow from our mouths are sweet and are full of trust in God and praise for His goodness despite what’s going on, we still care for others and open our arms and hearts to people, we forgive instead of holding on to hurt and bitterness, we are full of faith that God is truly Sovereign and over, in and through it all!

I don’t know what you personally are facing today, I potentially couldn’t even begin to understand the depth or pain of it, whoever you are today, know that I send this blog out with prayers of deliverance and healing and provision and breakthrough for YOU.

Remember through it all, God is fighting for you, the battle is the Lord’s, He loves you and He will never leave or forsake you, He is your strong tower, your rock, your shield, your everything. Trust Him today, allow His strength and His joy and His healing to flood through your body and your soul.

Thank you Jesus for all you are doing IN us and THROUGH us, we lift you higher than all that is going on arouund us, we lift our eyes to you, we trust you and we love you, and we are confident that our breakthrough from you is coming soon!

Amen – let it be so! xx