She had a tremble to her, the inner tremble you could feel with just a hand on her shoulder. I saw her in a grocery store. Had not seen her in some months. I asked about her kids and husband, and when I did, her eyes watered, her chin quivered, and the story spilled out. He’d left her. After twenty years of marriage, three kids, and a dozen moves, gone. Traded her in for a younger model. She did her best to maintain her composure but couldn’t. The grocery store produce section became a sanctuary of sorts. Right there between the tomatoes and the heads of lettuce, she wept. We prayed. Then I said, “You’ll get through this. It won’t be painless. It won’t be quick. But God will use this mess for good. In the meantime don’t be foolish or naive. But don’t despair either. With God’s help you will get through this.”
Two days later a friend called. He’d just been fired. The dismissal was his fault. He’d made stupid, inappropriate remarks at work. Crude, offensive statements. His boss kicked him out. Now he’s a fifty-seven-year-old unemployed manager in a rotten economy. He feels terrible and sounds worse. Wife angry. Kids confused. He needed assurance, so I gave it: “You’ll get through this. It won’t be painless. It won’t be quick. But God will use this mess for good. In the meantime don’t be foolish or naive. But don’t despair either. With God’s help you will get through this.”
Then there is the teenager I met at the café where she works. She’s fresh out of high school, hoping to get into college next month. Her life, as it turns out, hasn’t been easy. When she was six years old, her parents divorced. When she was fifteen, they remarried, only to divorce again a few months ago. Recently her parents told her to choose: live with Mom or live with Dad. She got misty-eyed as she described their announcement. I didn’t have a chance to tell her this, but if I see her again, you can bet your sweet September I am going to look her square in the eyes and say, “You’ll get through this. It won’t be painless. It won’t be quick. But God will use this mess for good. In the meantime don’t be foolish or naive. But don’t despair either. With God’s help you will get through this.”
Audacious of me, right? How dare I say such words? Where did I get the nerve to speak such a promise into tragedy? In a pit, actually. A deep, dark pit. So steep, the boy could not climb out. Had he been able to, his brothers would have shoved him back down. They were the ones who had thrown him in.
So it came to pass, when Joseph had come to his brothers, that they stripped Joseph of his tunic, the tunic of many colors that was on him. Then they took him and cast him into a pit. And the pit was empty; there was no water in it.
And they sat down to eat a meal. (Gen. 37:23–25)
It was an abandoned cistern. Jagged rocks and roots extended from its sides. The seventeen-year-old boy lay at the bottom. Downy beard, spindly arms and legs. His hands were bound, ankles tied. He lay on his side, knees to chest, cramped in the small space. The sand was wet with spittle, where he had drooled. His eyes were wide with fear. His voice was hoarse from screaming. It wasn’t that his brothers didn’t hear him. Twenty-two years later, when a famine had tamed their swagger and guilt had dampened their pride, they would confess, “We saw the anguish of his soul when he pleaded with us, and we would not hear” (42:21).
Max Lucado, You’ll Get through This: Hope and Help for Your Turbulent Times (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2013).
We have just completed a Bible study to guide through the life of Joseph. It consists of 6 lessons with ready-to-use questions suitable for groups. It can be purchased on Amazon and is also available as part of Good Questions Have Groups Talking Subscription Service.