Genesis 39:21

 But the Lord was with Joseph and showed him steadfast love and gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison.

After Potiphar’s wife’s accusation Joseph finds himself in prison. An unanticipated consequence for his righteous action. I imagine many of us can presently empathize with Joseph and his unexpected imprisonment.

This had to feel gut wrenchingly unfair to Joseph. Yet, verse 21 follows on the heels of Joseph’s suffering. It reveals the outward circumstances don’t tell the full story. Although Joseph suffered, God did not leave him. In the midst of his pain, God drew near and loved Joseph. Though outwardly a wreck, God was tending to Joseph’s soul and doing a work in secret that would bring about unimaginable good.

One of the temptations of our current season is to live as though our present circumstances are a fluke or an accident. We forget that God has given us this time on purpose. The good days are just as sovereignly decreed and given as the bad days. There is no fraction of what we face that is arbitrary or incidental. Remember, not a bird falls dead nor a hair on your head departs from your scalp apart from God’s intention (Matt. 10:29-30). He has numbered your days, and nothing comes to pass apart from His word (Psalm 139:16, Lam. 3:37-38).

These truths enable us to live stable and confident lives because our Heavenly Father isn’t like us or our circumstances. He doesn’t change. He doesn’t have off days. He doesn’t fail to provide for His children what is needed, and He never leaves us. In the darkest moments He is there, and in the heights of joy He is also there.

So, we receive this time as given by God. This frees us up to look for the unique opportunities presented by our current circumstances. In Joseph’s case, he ended up strategically placed to help some people in trouble by interpreting their dreams. His willingness to help ended up laying the path for his eventual freedom and ultimately the salvation of all of Israel. Look for opportunities to be a blessing in this season, and don’t lose sight of how God often uses small, seemingly unimportant actions to bring about colossal change.

 

Additional thoughts and application related to Covid 19:

 

Receive this time instead of rage against it

–      God is at work, and although His plans may be confusing and mysterious to us, we can know what He is doing will be for His glory and the good of His children (Romans 8:28).

–      Take a moment each day and ask:

  • Lord what do you have for me in this season?
  • What are you showing me about yourself and your creation?
  • Remember all minutes are equal in value in God’s economy of time. This season can be just as God glorifying, kingdom building, and Satan defeating as any other day in your life.

 

Acknowledge your blessings and challenges

–      No need to pretend like there aren’t any challenges right now. But, do not let the challenges blind your eyes to your current blessings (1 Thess. 5:16-18).

  • Make a daily practice of counting your blessings. This can be a great practice to add to your breakfast routine or mealtimes.

 

Love your neighbor

–      Unlike anytime in recent memory we have a common topic that the whole world is talking about. This can make talking to neighbors we have historically found challenging to engage with much easier. Everyone is impacted in some way and everyone is looking for someone to help them process and understand what is going on and what is going to happen. We can use this season and this easy entryway into conversation with our neighbors to build a rhythm of communication and connection that can serve us and our community well for years to come.

–      Pray for your neighbors and especially for those who are feeling the impact of Coronavirus more specifically and severely.

 

Structure your time at home

–      Predictability and structure can help make the days feel less like a never-ending blur of repeating Mondays. Especially for those with kids, structure can help provide the predictability and rhythm that school would usually offer. Here’s an example of what it might look like with my family:

  • 8am Breakfast and gratitude
  • 9am Free play
  • 10am Snack
  • 10:30am Chores
  • 11am Arts and craft
  • 12p Lunch
  • 1p Reading and quiet activity time
  • 3p Exercise
  • 4p Technology hour
  • 5p Family walk
  • 6p Dinner and sharing of today’s highs and lows
  • 7p Family games
  • 7:30p Clean up and bedtime routine

–      Posting a schedule like this somewhere in the house can really help set expectations for the whole family as well as create anticipation about each person’s favorite part of the schedule. It also gives you something to point to if your kids ever happen to say, “I don’t know what to do.”

–      Make the most of mealtime: Plan, prepare, eat, and clean up meals together. Remember those who are lacking food right now and take time to pray for them in the process.

–      Home cleaning: Oh, the joys of reordering our home only to be reminded by the destruction at the end of the day that we live in a fallen world where everything is slowly returning to dust. No doubt cleaning and ordering our homes can be filled with worship. It was our calling and design from before sin stained our souls to order and cultivate creation in ways that would produce thriving. However, we must keep in mind that our ordering in this broken world will not last. We remember the joy of our calling as cultivators of creation while also grieving sin’s impact as we daily watch what we have ordered get disordered once again. This provides us a daily opportunity of solidarity with Solomon and the book of Ecclesiastes.

 

Work at home like Jesus

–      Embrace interruptions. Jesus’ ministry was regularly marked by interruptions. It never really seemed to bother Him and more often than not the interruptions led to changed lives.

–      Also, for those with kids don’t forget the following:

  • Then children were brought to him that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked the people,14 but Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.”

Matthew 19:13-14

  • Jesus loves children! And don’t forget you also are His child.

–      And, lastly, see above about God ordaining every moment of your day for further encouragement J

 

Attend to your heart in this season

–      One of the benefits of a heightened general level of stress and anxiety is that it tends to reveal areas of our heart that could otherwise be hidden. In other words, it’s hard to hide that comfort idol when its being regularly poked. This doesn’t need to lead to shame, but instead can provide us greater opportunity to practice, by God’s grace, growing in contentment, patience, and a peace that surpasses understanding (Phi. 4:4-13)

–      Realize that the ongoing stress of our current circumstances will leave you with less will power and a shorter fuse than is likely usual for you. If you find yourself responding in ways that are uncharacteristic of your usual self, pause and consider how much of it is driven by the totality of all that has changed versus what you are facing in the moment. We don’t want the moment to bear the burden of everything that’s going on. Also, keep this in mind as friends, neighbors, spouses, or kids may also respond with shorter fuses. We all need an extra measure of grace in this season.

 

Exercise

–      Don’t underestimate the benefits of exercise in this season. Just going for a walk, doing some gardening, or working through your favorite 20-minute YouTube yoga session can go a long way in stabilizing your mood and keeping the mundaneness from shifting into melancholy.

Andrew Dealy, LPC

Author Andrew Dealy, LPC

Andrew is the Executive Director of the Austin Stone Counseling Center. His passion is to display the glory of God in the darkest moments and places of peoples’ lives and to help them see that the Lord’s ability to save, heal, restore, and redeem is not hindered by the severity of our circumstances or weaknesses. The Lord is always able, even when we feel like we are not.

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