It seems like the world is several shades of mad these days.
Family members are diagnosed with things that have the doctors worried, and big decisions are disrupting the places that used to feel peaceful. It’s not all fun and games anymore, folks. Life is getting serious.
I told you last month that I was going to start running. I needed to overcome this fear and intense failure that I’d built up over the last several years. I needed to accomplish something physical. I needed to run a 5K.
Well, I’m proud to tell you that I just completed my fifth week. I’m well on my way.
But as I ran at the gym a few days ago, life crashed through my groggy morning run, waking me up like a cold bucket of water.
I rarely watch TV. I just can’t handle it, honestly. I stick to channels like HGTV, and the Food Network, and occasionally something fluffier like TLC. But I just can’t handle a 24-hour cycle of everything that is messed up about the world.
But at the gym I don’t have a choice. TVs line up in front of me, each pulling at my attention, the more gruesome headlines calling even louder. It’s hard to look away.
On Monday the news looked a little bit like this:
– 22-year-old newlywed accused of murdering husband.
– Nelson Mandela died
– On a college campus, a cop is being investigated for shooting a student
– There was a deadly shooting in East Atlanta.
And that was just the beginning.
The headlines around our office are just as bad though.
We’ve had stabbings this year, and I’ve lost count of the cancer diagnoses. We have divorce and sudden deaths and family rifts so wide they make the Grand Canyon look like a paper cut.
We’re having breakdowns and fall-outs and quarter life crises like they’re going out of style.
Is any of this happening in your world?
If you’re anything like us, you’re asking some huge questions right now. You’re watching the news and trying to steel yourself against the pain. Or you’re watching the things going on in your very own home and going into survival mode—just trying to make it through.
And I don’t have a cure.
Trust me, I’ve been looking for one, but there’s not an easy answer this time around.
But here’s what I do know: God is good.
Through cancer and death and rifts between loved ones, through broken hearts and broken lives and broken promises, he’s good.
He’s good in the hard times and in the good times and in the times that feel messy and thoroughly beyond repair.
And in those times—those times that feel like you’re digging at rock bottom, is when it’s the most important to remember that fact.
He is good.
But you have to believe it. And that’s a choice.
In the midst of our suffering we have a decision to make:
Do we trust him?
Do you believe that God has you, that he’s taking care of you, that he’s got something beautiful up his sleeve even when it seems like death and destruction around every turn?
If you do, that changes everything.
Have you heard the story of Joseph?
I’m going to paraphrase it for quickly, but Bible scholars—please give me a break. This isn’t going to be scientific.
Joseph was a guy who loved God a lot. He was chosen by God to do some miraculous things and God told him so in a dream.
Long story short, Joseph got a lot of really tough breaks. He told his brothers about the dream (which was dumb), they got jealous and sold him into slavery. He did well and was promoted, but then was seduced by his boss’s wife, who got mad and accused him of raping her when he refused her. And then he was thrown into prison and forgotten about for a few years.
And in all of those moments—when terrible and even worse things kept happening—Joseph easily could have thrown in the towel. He could have given up and decided that God didn’t care—he could have spent his time feeling bad for himself and cursing God and his brothers who kind of started it all.
But God had other plans for Joseph.
Those two little words will change your life. “But God…”
If none of this had happened, Joseph would have been an over-confident little boy who couldn’t keep his mouth shut. But instead, God did something miraculous. Through all of the wrong, terrible, unfair things that happened to him, God was able to grow Joseph into a man that would one day save all of Egypt.
“You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” – Genesis 50:20
And this is possible for us too.
Life is brutally hard sometimes.
But when we open ourselves up to trusting and following God—especially when it’s the hardest and makes the littlest sense—God will transform that suffering into something that could change the world.
I’m praying for us all today—praying for the hurt and the pain and the death and the sadness that feels so rampant in our world these days. And I’m praying that in every one of our stories we stop, and take a deep breath, and utter those tiny, game-changing words, “but God…” and open our eyes for what he’s going to do next.
What could God do through you if you trusted him even in the darkest moments?