God and Superman
How often do we do it?
"Do what?" You may ask.
How often do we expect God to swoop down like Superman and deliver us out of difficulty? 1 Cor. 10:13 advises us that "No trial has overtaken you that is not faced by others. And God is faithful: He will not let you be tried beyond what you are able to bear, but with the trial will also provide a way out so that you may be able to endure it." Often enough we latch onto the words "a way out" and ask our Heavenly Superman to sweep us out of difficulty and into bliss. However, life and Scripture tell us that it doesn't always work that way. And do understand, I mean no disrespect to the Lord of glory with the "Heavenly Superman" reference but seek to provide an image that will provoke your thinking.
My mind goes to Joseph when I think of expectations of God's deliverance from difficulty. I cannot help but think, "How did Joseph do it? How did this man who was so awfully treated get to such a pinnacle of life and ministry? To become second only to Pharoah, to have the power to give those rotten brothers a lesson they so much deserved, and yet to refrain and to say, "Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? As for you, you meant to harm me, but God intended it for a good purpose, so he could preserve the lives of many people, as you can see this day. So now, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your little children.” Then he consoled them and spoke kindly to them (Genesis 50:19-21). He did what? He consoled them and spoke nicely to them! This was a man who knew a secret that all of us long to understand. To sit at Joseph’s feet and learn from him, we can do, thanks to the Scripture.
Let’s review now the events as we know them. Joseph was favored by his father. He was given privileges and a special coat. Apparently, he was sent to hold his brothers to account for their stewardship of the family’s flocks. On top of this, he was a visionary, a dreamer: someone God had given insight into the future that elevated him but only resulted in further disdain, disrespect and hate from his brothers.
Finally, they decided they had enough from this “dreamer.” Joseph was cast into a pit. Did Joseph expect God to swoop down like Superman and rescue him from there? Apparently not. How can I be so sure? Well, from the outcome. If Joseph had cried for “a way out” (see 1 Cor. 10:13) and expected that of his good God, then he was sorely disappointed.
When negotiations were going on for him to be sold into slavery, do you think that he expected God, because He is good, to rescue him from that? If so, then again, Joseph would be frustrated at God’s lack of deliverance. Time and again, throughout Joseph’s experience from the pit, to the slave trade, to Potiphar’s house, to jail and even to be forgotten while in jail, Joseph, if he anticipated God’s imminent help out of the trial and suffering, was mistaken again and again and again.
Now, if you were Joseph, and you expected God, or even your father, to deliver you at any time and time and again it didn’t happen, what would you think? How would you feel? I tell you how I would feel, I would be distressed, disappointed, frustrated and in peril of being despondent or depressed. How do I know? Because God used a trial this year in my life to change my faith from one focused on a Superman God to a Sovereign God; from a faith in an outcome to a faith in a Person.
You see, the Lord doesn’t promise “a way out” the way we understand it but a way through. Time and again, as I faced my trial of suffering that I felt was so unjust, I asked God for this and I requested of Him that only to get just the opposite. The escape hatch was closed. I was in this for the long haul. Then the Lord spoke to my heart as I confronted my Superman faith and convicted me that I didn’t need an outcome but I needed a Person. I needed Him. From that moment on, I purposed to pray something like this, “God, you know what I confront. You know the injustice I have faced. You know the suffering and trial and how I feel about what is ahead. I’m not asking for a way out but a way through. As I face the next part of this journey, convince me of Your presence, give me Your wisdom and use me for Your honor and glory.” What astounded me was that He then gave me exactly what He knew I longed for. The trial and suffering was over; the cloud lifted and I was able to praise God for His deliverance; not out but through.
Joseph had favor over and over in Egypt because he had faith in a Person, not an outcome. Don’t get me wrong, I think he longed to go home. I believe he hoped for his dad to show up with money to buy him out of slavery or to be released and sent home. However, his faith in God wasn’t a Superman faith, it was a Sovereign one. He knew, deep down inside that God was faithful. He was with Joseph wherever he went and everywhere he went was a part of God’s plan. That kind of faith kept him from fighting God, struggling against the trials and sufferings, and instead he could embrace them. That is the secret for you and for me. Thank you, God, for sharing this with us and thank you, Joseph, for leading the way through, not out of, trials and sufferings.
". . . And God is faithful: He will not let you be tried beyond what you are able to bear, but with the trial will also provide a way . . . that you may be able to endure it." Let’s not allow “a way out” to be our escape clause. Your faith is in a Person (“God is faithful”), not in an outcome.