“….because the Lord was with him; and whatever he did the Lord made it prosper.” Genesis 39:23
My husband and I had only been married for five months when we found out I was pregnant. We joyfully picked out colors and themes and furniture, and had wonderful moments with friends at baby showers. But then three months before I was due I was unexpectedly laid off from my job. Because I had been the main breadwinner in the family, I had to face the realization that my new baby was about to be born into poverty. I had to face the future and all I saw were big blanks.
I had another blank to fill when it finally came time to go back to work after being a stay-at-home mom for almost nine years. Technology had passed me by (“what’s this cloud stuff?”), I was out of touch with what was going on in my former field, and my skills had for the most part fallen apart. But I still had a family to feed.
What was I going to do? What was my next move? How should I handle it all? So many questions (and panic) raced through my mind. I didn’t know it at the time, but God was setting me up for something good. He was going to fill in the blanks for me.
Staring into the great unknown happens to all of us. Whether it’s a traumatic event like a job loss or death of a loved one, or something more minor like stepping onto a college campus for the first time, we all experience blank moments.
In our human minds we instantly think it’s all a huge setback and the wheels have come off the bus and “woe is me!” In our anxiety we often forget that God is still with us. And we don’t usually think that just maybe God is allowing these times in our lives for a reason. But in actuality, He is.
God Fills In the Blanks
Time and time again we read in the Bible how God never forsakes His people. He’s always filling in the blanks. Probably the greatest example of this devotion is found in the story of Joseph in the book of Genesis, chapter 37.
Poor obnoxious Joseph just couldn’t stop telling his brothers about the dreams he was having and how one day they would all bow down to him. So, of course, one day his brothers decided they had had enough and they dropped him into a pit to die. One brother took a wee bit of pity on Joseph, so they pulled him out of the pit. Joseph probably felt relieved, but his brothers weren’t sparing him. They were selling him to slave traders who were passing by on their way to Egypt (because that’s better, right?).
I’m sure you remember a lot of Joseph’s story. How he went from the pit to being a slave in a foreign land, then accused of rape and put in jail. This happened over a course of 13 years (it would be another four years before he saw his brothers again). Talk about setbacks! I would imagine that Joseph on far more than one occasion felt like he was drawing some blanks and staring into the scary unknown.
Yet God was always with Joseph. In reading this story, you’ll see that the Bible repeats several times that God was with Joseph. He never left Joseph on his own. Joseph was probably wondering if this was actually true because it probably didn’t seem like it. And maybe that’s how you’re feeling too. Maybe you’re feeling forgotten by God.
All Blanks Work Together For Good
There are many times that God allows unfortunate events to happen to us so that our faith will grow. It’s during those difficult times that we need to lean on our faith and remember that He is mighty, and powerful, and good to His children. We are reminded in Romans 8:28,
“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”
All those setbacks, all the stumbling blocks, all the obstacles we have to overcome, they eventually all become waypoints on your path of life to get you ready for what’s next. God is using them to perfect our faith and to bring about a bigger goodness than we could ever imagine. We can look again at Joseph’s story to know that this is true.
God made Joseph such a good slave that he was given the job of overseeing the Egyptian commander’s entire household. He did such a good job again that he attracted the commander’s wife’s attention and she tried to seduce him. After she put him in jail for resisting her, Joseph became such a model prisoner that he was given the job of overseeing the jail. He was so accurate in interpreting a dream for the baker who had been sent to that jail for punishment that two years later the baker told Pharaoh about Joseph because Pharaoh himself needed a dream interpreted. Then Joseph did that so well (again!) that Pharaoh made him second-in-command over all of Egypt.
So Pharaoh said to them, “The spirit of God is in this man. We can’t find anyone like him, can we?” Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “God has made this known to you. No one is as wise and understanding as you are. You will be in charge of my palace. All of my people must obey your orders. I will be greater than you only because I’m the one who sits on the throne.” Genesis 41:38–40
See how God used Joseph’s circumstances, his blank moments, to get him ready for greater things? All of it was a build-up to Joseph being in a position of power so that he could save the population from famine. All of it worked together for good. So it ends up not being a setback but rather a setup!
Often God will keep you in the dark and make you face the blank spaces so that your faith will be increased and your character better developed. It’s how He gets you ready for what’s next. So when you’re going through tough times like Joseph, press in and hang on to your faith. Stay obedient to the Lord. Pray and seek Him. He’s setting you up for something great! You’ll come to see that at just the right time He’ll fill in the blanks and He’ll raise you up to a place of honor.
“Put yourselves under God’s mighty hand. Then He will honor you at the right time. Cast all your cares on Him for He cares about you.” 1 Peter 5:6–7