LIFE. IS. NOT. FAIR.

What happens when you are trying to do everything right, and you get broadsided with a tragedy, disappointment, or struggle? Aren't we promised an easy yoke? Shouldn't our work for the Lord keep us from suffering heartaches?

I remember parts of the last day of 2018 very vividly. I don’t remember the whole day but I recall the last couple of hours and especially the last 15 minutes incredibly clearly. My wife, our 3 day old baby girl, Lucy, and I were sitting in an emergency room getting some news at 11:48pm. The reason my wife had been having hot and cold sensations in her legs for a year, the reason she slowly began to lose feeling in her entire right leg and could barely feel her left over the last few months, the reason she was weak and so low on energy, the reason her pregnancy with Lucy had been so much harder than her first…

It all became clear all at once. She had a tumor on her spine.

I’m morbidly humorous and sarcastic when the situation calls for it, so all I could think was, “well, what a “great” way to end 2018.” Then we found out the tumor was so dangerous that they wanted to do surgery the very next day, the first day of 2019. What a “great” way to start 2019, huh?

Yet, through it all, God’s been good! Through surgery, long recovery, radiation day after day, God’s never let us down! I know I can tell our story, but what about the Bible account of Joseph? What lessons we can learn from Joseph's life that may shed light on some of the incredibly human questions we have for God when confronted with tragedy, disappointment, or struggle? When life isn’t “fair”, how should we react?

JOSEPH WAS LIVING FAITHFULLY

“And Israel said unto Joseph, Do not thy brethren feed the flock in Shechem? come, and I will send thee unto them. And he said to him, Here am I. And he said to him, Go, I pray thee, see whether it be well with thy brethren, and well with the flocks; and bring me word again. So he sent him out of the vale of Hebron, and he came to Shechem.
— Genesis 37:13-14

Joseph was a good young man. He obeyed his father's commands. While studying this journey that Joseph's father sent him on, I discovered that Joseph walked over 100 miles in search of his brothers. Those are not the actions of a rebellious young man. Joseph was a good kid.

We have established that Joseph was of upstanding character. This was not some little errand he was sent on. This was not a small responsibility like "take out the trash". As we progress through Genesis 37 we can see that Joseph learned that...

LIFE COMES AT YOU FAST

“And it came to pass, when Joseph was come unto his brethren, that they stript Joseph out of his coat, his coat of many colours that was on him; And they took him, and cast him into a pit: and the pit was empty, there was no water in it.
— Genesis 37:23-24

Joseph is trudging along, finally sees his brothers in the distance, is looking forward to a fire and some water and taking a rest and BAM! Within minutes he is in a pit with no explanation. And within a day he is tied behind a camel as the property of some slave traders. Not long after that he is sold again in a country that is foreign to him! You think you have it rough? Do you think our family has had it rough?! Not barely! Imagine being thrown in a van with a bag over your head, taking a long airplane ride with burly guards on each side of you and being dropped off in a place where you don't know the language and being made to understand that someone now owns you. Sounds like...

LIFE IS NOT FAIR

You can say about Joseph's life that "all's well that ends well". Technically you would be right. But, as Joseph looked up from the bottom of a pit, was trudging through the desert behind a camel on his way to Egypt, and was thrown into prison for a crime he did not commit, life sure didn't seem very fair.

Usually when we do something dumb and get in trouble for our actions we can at least associate our bad circumstance with our bad decision. What was Joseph supposed to blame? Dreams sent by God that he was just excited to share with his family?! His "punishment" did not fit his "crime"! As we skip forward in the story of Joseph, he finds out that...

LIFE DOES NOT FREEZE

A valuable lesson for those of us that have gone through hard circumstances is this, "everyone else's life does not come to a stop just because we have had it tough." When Joseph looked down at his brothers from his throne later in life, though he was now in a position of power and superiority, he looked down and saw older faces looking back at him. His brothers were affected by the passage of time. His father had grown old in his absence.

Joseph could have gotten bitter about the years of his life that he had lost. He could have punished his brothers for ripping away time he could have spent with his beloved father. Instead, he accepted that life did not freeze for others during his trials and that...

LIFE DOESN'T FOLLOW YOUR PLANS

“A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the LORD directeth his steps.
— Proverbs 16:9

I will simply say this, don't get so attached to your plans that you would never let God change them. If the Lord truly directs your steps, then let Him. Joseph seemed to understand this. He also understood that though you might be living in a sort of captivity of some kind...

LIVING FOR GOD IS TRUE FREEDOM

Don't live in bondage to circumstance!

“For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister.
— Hebrews 6:10

Understand that Joseph had as much freedom as he was given by God, not as much as his circumstance dictated. Circumstances don't dictate your freedom, your relationship with God does. What that means is that you do not have to be bound and crushed by the weight of situations and problems. You can rest in God's grace and peace. As the verse above states, God is not going to forget you or your work for Him.

“If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.
— John 8:36

You know, Lincoln may be the Great Emancipator, but God is the Greatest Emancipator! Trust Him throughout your circumstance! Lastly, Joseph found that...

LIFE IS NOT FINAL

“And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.
— Revelation 21:4

 What a joy when we realize that Joseph did not spend forever in Egypt! His bones, and his legacy made it out, Exodus 13:19 And Moses took the bones of Joseph with him:. And more importantly, Joseph is in Heaven right now! Does he have his head down like Eeyore because of how bad a few years of his life were? No!!! 

Maybe you are in, or going into a circumstance that you don’t understand. Take these lessons from the life of Joseph to heart and emulate his attitude, and say like Job, BLESSED BE THE NAME OF THE LORD! Life may not be “fair” all the time, but God is good all the time, and all the time, God is good!

Micah McCurry