Written by: Charlie Englemann, SCF Elder
We cannot grow without change. Our instinct is to resist change, especially in times of transition when we feel our lives are being overwhelmed by loss and uncertainty.
Transition is scary. But it can also be powerful. We experience transition any time we move from comfort to discomfort; from certainty to the unpredictable; from easy to difficult; from familiar to strange. And in these transitions, we are forced to recalibrate the way in which we see the world, ourselves, and even God.
The story of Joseph illustrates the adversity inherent in seasons of transition, but also how those seasons have the potential for growth and renewal. In Genesis 37, we read about a man named Joseph who leaves his home in search of his brothers in a land called Dothan. Historically, we don’t know much about the land of Dothan, except that it was not where Joseph was from. He was there only to find his brothers. Dothan was not his home. For Joseph, it was a place of uncertainty.
It is natural for us to fear uncertainty. We think that unfamiliar places are wrought with danger and frustration, so it is easier (and more comfortable) to avoid such places. When called to Dothan, we say, “No thanks. I’ll stay where I am.”
Covid-19 has been our Dothan. It has been a place of uncertainty and even loss. Some in our community have lost their jobs. Some have been disconnected from friends and family. Some have lost confidence in their plans, finances, and even faith. Everyone has felt a loss of freedom and control.
But part of the message of Joseph’s story is that we should not fear Dothan. Yes, those places of uncertainty are difficult and can turn our lives upside down (even when we’d like to keep our lives right-side up), but Joseph showed us that as we focus our lives on God, the land of Dothan need not be feared. Indeed, Dothan can be a place to experience transformation.
So, how do we respond to our Dothan times?
At the end of II Chronicles 20, there is a story about a coalition of armies closing in to wipe out the tribe of Judah. There was seemingly no way out. Judah’s leader, Jehosephat, naturally felt fear and uncertainty. So, he led his people to fast, pray and at the end of the prayer, Jehosephat spoke these words:
“Surely we do not know what to do. But our eyes are on you.”
This is the disposition of a God-centered man. His hope is not in his circumstances, his might or his plans. His hope is in God alone, and his focus is on Him.
This encouragement is echoed by the author of Hebrews, who wrote in 12:2, “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross.”
In the same way, in our uncertainty and dislocation, let us fix our eyes on Jesus. Do not fear Dothan. Have faith that God will work for the good of those who love Him. And like Joseph, God will honor His promises in your life and continue to pour out His blessings despite – or even because of – your trials.