Dwell in Me

Seeking God in the Every Day


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Rejoicing with Those Who Rejoice

Joseph, favorite son of Jacob, was sold into slavery by his own brothers. The motive? That boy was daddy’s favorite, and they were jealous. Murderously jealous. In fact, if a tribe of Ishmaelites hadn’t shown up at just the right time, the original plan was to kill the boy, their brother, the favorite son of their father.

It’s really a sad story. I can’t imagine being so totally rejected by my own brothers and sister. It would be heartbreaking.

But this story has a truly remarkable ending. Joseph is raised up among the Egyptians. He becomes the number two guy in all of Egypt and prevents the people from starving during a severe, seven-year famine.

He also finds himself in a position to make an important choice.

When Joseph’s brothers who sold him into slavery appear before him wanting to purchase food for their families, he could have repaid their evil with evil. He could have sent them away empty-handed, or sold them as slaves, or even had them killed. But he doesn’t.

Joseph forgives his brothers. Yes, he makes them jump through a couple of hoops and pass a few well-designed “tests” before he reconciles with them, but we don’t see him taking vengence or holding any kind of grudge against the men who kept him from his beloved father and baby brother for over twenty years.

***

So, one of the tests Joseph gives his brothers is to see if they continue in their jealousy. He has a feast prepared for his brothers, and he feeds them all more than enough food, but he gives to Benjamin–his full  brother, the baby of the family, and his father’s new favorite–portions five times bigger than he gives all the other brothers.

And the brothers don’t complain. If they are jealous or begredging Benjamin this bonus serving, they keep it to themselves this time. The difference in treatment brings out no apparent ill-will. Instead, the Bible says, the brothers drank and were merry.

***

As we discussed this story this morning at my Bible study, someone mentioned Romans 12:15, “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.” And I found it so very intereting when she said, “It seems easy to find people who weep with us when we’re weeping–but how often do we actually rejoice with others who are rejoicing?”

There’s a funny thing with infertility and the infertility community that’s been bothering meI don’t want to be insensitive, but I feel this needs to be said. As people dealing with infertility–people who want to be pregnant or have children more than most–we have a tendency to complain about other people’s pregnancies. We whine and mope about seeing pregnant bellies while we’re in the grocery store or out to dinner. We cry about pregnancy announcements and pictures of babies and bumps on facebook. We talk about how hard it is to be around people who have what we want the most.

I wish I could claim innocence here, but I know I’ve been guilty too.

And we can sugar coat it all we want. One book I read said pregnant bellies were “grief triggers.” This book–with a Christian perspective–was arguing that it is perfectly fine to foster those feelings of disappointment and sadness when we see pregnant women or new babies.

But I think we go beyond “grief trigger” and quickly end up at jealousy. And it’s not fine. We shouldn’t be okay with those emotional responses.

Maybe we can’t help it. Our emotions sneak up on us and we aren’t really ever in control, right?

But maybe we should try.

Because you know what? I’m going to be one excited lady when I’m pregnant. I’m going to be praising God and smiling and joyful–even if I’m sick and tired and feeling bloated. And I’m going to hope that people will want to rejoice with me.

And I’m not a fan of double standards.

So I’m rejoicing with you while you rejoice, dear mama-to-be.

And I’m weeping with you while you weep, dear friend still waiting.

And I’m starting now.

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Waiting and Waiting and Why?

What’s it all about anyway?

Waiting. And waiting. And maybe some more waiting.

I don’t have an answer. But . . .

I trust the wait is not in vain.

God is using this difficulty in my life to shape me, to turn my heart to him, to transform me into the woman he wants me to be. And this shaping is an answer to prayer. Years ago, we sang the song “Holiness” in church, and I remember praying the chorus on so many occasions:

Take my heart and mold it
Take my mind; transform it
Take my will: conform it
To yours, to yours, O Lord

I believe God is doing these things through the circumstances of my life. Sometimes it’s a painful process, but I need to remember it’s an answer to prayer.

I trust that God knows what’s best (and I do not).

We’ve all heard the saying that hindsight is 20/20. I’m not convinced this is true for humans–but we can look back when we’ve seen how a situation played out and maybe see ways we could have acted or thought differently. God has the luxury of knowing what is going to happen, where we’re going,  and how we’re going to get there. God is outside of time. I think about that and try to picture what it means, and I can’t wrap my mind around it. But I find it comforting to know. I wonder if to God we are a movie he’s seen before. A good movie that he chooses to watch again. Like the celestial equivalent of Pride and Prejudice. Or Sliding Doors.

Either way, God is there, “Declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand and I will accomplish all my purpose.'” (Isaiah 46:10)

He knows. He knows where I’m going and why I’m going this way. And he allowed this trial because he knew how he would use it for his glory and my good.

I trust that God’s timing is perfect (and mine is not).

If it were up to me, I’d have a near-two-year-old right now. But I don’t. If it were up to me, I would have gotten pregnant last month. Or the month before that. Or before that. But I didn’t.

And man, the timing just made so much sense to me last month. It meant I’d get to share with my family in person at the trip we have scheduled to visit them in mid-April. I had the anouncement all planned out. But it wasn’t God’s timing, It was my timing. And what do I know about timing?

How can I even presume to know that one month is the right month? How can I even think for one moment that I should be in a position to determine such an important thing? That I should have any say in when a precious–nay, invaluable–human life should begin?

God’s shown us through his word that his timing is indeed perfect. What might have happened to the Israelites, for example, if Joseph hadn’t been in the perfect place at the perfect time to sustain the known world–including his own family–through severe famine? I’m sure each day that went by in prison had Joseph asking, “Is today the day?” As the years went by and he kept waiting, how did he not grow weary? How did he not lose faith? But he didn’t. And God’s timing was perfect.

I trust that God is good.

We can see the end of Joseph’s story. And since we know the ending, we see that God even used Joseph’s slavery for good.

We may not all have the opportunity to see how God has used the bad things in our lives for our good. Or we may allow bitterness to creep in and hide this truth from us. We can ignore the blessings of God–especially when they come in the midst of affliction. Or we can recognize them and give him the glory as  Joseph did.

Joseph’s second son is Ephraim, “for the Lord has made me fruitful in the land of my affliction.” (Genesis 41:52b). Do we see how the Lord is making us fruitful in the land of our affliction? Are we allowing the Lord to make us fruitful in the land of our affliction?

When Joseph reveals himself to his brothers, he also reveals his faith in God’s goodness.

“As for you [my brothers], you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.” (Genesis 50:20)

Can we look at our affliction and trust that God is good?

I trust that God is bigger. And that his ways are better.

He knows. Everything. The number of hairs on my head. The number of children I’ll have–and when I’ll have them. The location of the end of the rainbow.

And because he knows everything, I can trust that he knows the best possible outcome in any given circumstance. And even the best circumstance for any given person in any given moment. The depths of his wisdom and knowledge are infathomable.

And he is sovereign and just asking us to give our foolish attempts at control over to him, because he’s really in control anyway.

And why shouldn’t we, when we know that his ways are better?

I’m not saying it’s easy to surrender. But it is necessary. Painful, even. Yet absolutely necessary for the well-lived life.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8-9)

I trust that God loves me.

This is the key. Because if I don’t believe God loves me, then the fact that he is sovereign, all-knowing, and in control is terrifying. A capricious or unloving god would be an all-powerful super-villan. How could we trust such a god? How could we commit our lives or surrender our desires to such a god? Such a god–an unloving god–would perhaps be worth struggling against.

But praise God, he IS love. He doesn’t just love us, his being defines the term! He loves us. He weeps with us, as Jesus did at Lazarus’s tomb. He struggles with us. He hurts for us. He triumphs and rejoices with us. Our God is not a sadist–he takes no pleasure in suffering. He is a father who loves us. Truly loves us.

And this love he has for us? This love we could never even almost hope to approximate? It’s a game changer.

Oh, thank you, Father, for revealing this love to me through infertility. Because it is this love that makes me sure. This love that lets me know that you are trustworthy. And that this waiting is not in vain.


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Falling Down, Getting Back Up

You know that feeling, when you just blink your eyes and realize a month has passed? I can’t believe my last post was February 25!

I wish I had super exciting news to report, and some good excuses for why I’ve been absent and where I’ve been. But I don’t. It’s just been a different season for me lately, and although I’ve been missing writing, I’ve also been knee-deep in those things of life that have to be dealt with. Maybe you’ve been there too? Or maybe you’re much more organized than I am and know how to line up guest posts and keep things going. Ha. Someday maybe I’ll be there.

I’ve had a tough couple of days. To be honest, I’ve been kind of frustrated about our infertility lately. I feel like it should be over already. As we keep waiting for that elusive BFP, this sense that we’re actually trying yet it still hasn’t worked has dredged up a lot of feelings I thought I’d addressed and moved through.

Apparently they were just buried.

For months now I’ve been “so well-adjusted” and happy. I’ve been self-assured and confident that I’ve learned all the lessons God could possibly be teaching me through this trial. As we’ve been studying Joseph’s story and all about suffering in I Peter for my Bible studies, I’ve read along, nodding. “Oh yes,” I’ve thought, “suffering does develop good character in us. Look what it’s done for me!”

But I’m ready to be done with infertility. I’m ready to move on. When will God agree? Can’t I graduate yet?

We went to the rodeo on Saturday. The Houston Livestock show and Rodeo is seriously amazing. And that’s coming from a yankee suburban girl. I went to the rodeo for the first time two years ago. I had no idea what to expect, and I fell in love. We missed the rodeo last year, so this was only my second trip, but it didn’t disappoint.

The Houston Rodeo has an event that, to my understanding, very few other rodeos still have. It’s called mutton busting. In this extreme sport, 5 and 6 year old boys and girls who weigh between 35 and 55 pounds are plopped onto full-grown sheep. They hold on tightly as the sheep (hopefully) runs across a pen.

Sometimes they fall off after a short distance. And other times, the adults waiting at the end struggle to get the children to release the sheep. When they fall off, they almost always bounce back up and wave to the audience.

This is the highlight of the rodeo for me. I’m a little sad I wasn’t given the opportunity to ride a sheep when I was a child, and I fully intend to sign my children up for a ride one day. They may or may not have any say in the matter…

As we sat in the outdoor tent watching the mutton busing prelims, I was feeling so emotional. I kept feeling like I was holding back tears. But there wasn’t anything to cry about.

Over the next few days, I tried to process these feelings. It came as something of a surprise to me, but I realized that I was feeling really frustrated and angry about our situation. I’ve been irritated by the injustice of infertility. Some little part of me keeps welling up and crying out, “not fair!” Like a child.

Where is this coming from? I thought I’d dealt with these feelings. I’ve been matured and made better in my trial, right? I know I’ve been blessed through infertility and yet I lost the ability, for a few days, to find joy in my trial.

I don’t have a moral to the story here. Or even a good metaphor to tie the sheep in (though I kind of wish I did). This is where I’ve been lately. Processing. Evaluating. Re-processing. Re-evaluating. And praying. And asking God to give me some clarity here, and to give me some joy.

It’s easy to blog all the good lessons I’m learning, and the amazing finds in God’s word that just make my heart leap. It’s easy, on a blog, to put on a good face and seem like everything’s fine. To play this, “look at me and how I’m blossoming” card. But I guess that’s just part of the picture.

And the other part, the part that’s easier to hide, is the “this is really hard” part. The part that whines, “are we there yet?” The part that still cries out, “It’s not fair!”

I don’t like that part. But it’s a good reminder that I still have a lot to learn. And I guess I always will.

But maybe, just maybe, I don’t have to keep learning it all through infertility? We’ll see where the next month takes us, I guess.