The Pits: Life’s Not Fair

Thrown into a ditch by his brothers. I can identify with Joseph. The boys in my neighborhood while I was growing up—including my brother—knew that I was too short and weak to get myself out of the deep ditches in our neighborhood. They’d get me down there to play war and then leave me down there so that they could play without me tagging along. Kids are cruel that way.

For Joseph, it was much worse. Nobody ever came back for him. There was no neighborhood mother to hear his screams and make somebody go back to get him. Instead, he was sold to a slave trader that took him to a completely different country. Pretty tough stuff for a teenage boy—the baby of his family—to handle. To be hated by his brothers that much. And to be taken that far away from the home and the father he loved. Makes my petty disagreements with my brother seem pretty small.

It seems like every time Joseph got his feet on solid ground, somebody snatched the rug out from under him again. He kept ending up in the pits. Literally. And it sucked. What had he ever done to deserve that? All alone in a foreign country. Persecuted. I mean, I have tough times, but at least I end my days in a soft, warm bed in a place I call “home.” And I may be lonely sometimes, but I’m never completely alone.

What had Joseph done to deserve it? Nothing. He was just himself. He was open and honest with his family and friends. An upstanding guy. But he ended up on his face in a jail cell. Not fair at all!

Can I tell you a secret? Life isn’t fair. Whether you’re a good person or a bad person… Whether you give to charity or steal from orphans… Whether you’re rich, smart, and good looking or whether you’re uglier than homemade lye soap… Sometimes, things are going to happen that make no sense. That you don’t deserve and can’t understand. You’re going to have bad days and long, terrible nights. That’s life.

Now, before you say, “But God could stop it!” I’ll just say that we’re not going there today. Long story short: yes, God could, but then He’d have to take away the freedom that He promised us. And if He did that, He wouldn’t be God. And He wouldn’t be good. And since He’s both, He won’t go against His own Word.

So, let’s move on.

Joseph had every reason to wallow in self-pity and there were probably times that he did. But ultimately, he trusted God to get him out of the mess he was in and God did.

(If you’re not familiar with the story, you can find it in Genesis chapters 30-50. Incidentally, I’d think a guy must be pretty important for God to allot twenty chapters to tell his story, so it’s definitely worth checking out.)

I wallow in self-pity sometimes. More than I should, really. Less than I used to, though. And I’ve got people closed to me that I really love that have a lot of good reasons to wallow in self-pity, too. Friends with terminally ill children… Or who are going through abuse… Or painful relationships… Or watching a family member struggle with substance abuse… This list could go on.

It’s really easy for us in those situations to say, “God, what the heck are you doing?!” Or worse. And God’s okay with that. He wants our honesty, no matter how brutal it is. And since this post is long enough already, I’m going to let Laura Story give the answer that’s helping me. (I know I should’ve found a video link for this. Forgive me. I wanted to focus on the words of the song and not a video.)

Bless the Lord by Laura Story

You give and take away for my good. For who am I to say what I need? For You alone see the hidden parts of me that need to be stripped away.

And as You begin to refine, I’m learning to let go and rely on One who walks with me. As hard as it may be, You’re teaching me all the while to say:

Bless the Lord, O my soul. All that’s in me bless Your name, Forget not Your power untold, not Your glory or Your fame. For You came to heal the broken, to redeem and make me whole. Bless the Lord, O my soul.

Though my faith may falter, my strength may fail, I pray for eyes to see the richness of your mercy shown to me.

Bless the Lord, O my soul. All that’s in me bless Your name, Forget not Your power untold, not Your glory or Your fame. For You came to heal the broken, to redeem and make me whole. Bless the Lord, O my soul.

So, I say:

“God, what the heck are you doing?!”

And he says:

“I give and take away for your good. Who are you to say what you need? I alone see the hidden parts of you that need to be stripped away…”

And one day, I will have the understanding and faith to say:

“Bless you Lord! All that’s in me blesses your name…”

And for those of you who THINK I’ve forgotten that it’s Wednesday and that today is our normal book discussion day… I haven’t forgotten! Jason and I had intended to do a “conclusion” today to the book discussion, but feel the book has been covered pretty thoroughly. If you have anything you’d like to mention about “The Hole in Our Gospel” by Rich Stearns, please feel free to put it in the comments below and I’ll address it. Otherwise come back NEXT WEEK, when Jason and I are going to unveil the NEXT book that we’ll be giving away and discussing. We’re gonna do something different and shake things up a bit, so be prepared!

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  1. This really goes with the post I wrote for Kevin yesterday. Totally agree. It’s hard to keep it in focus sometimes, but He will help us. 🙂 thanks Sarah.

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