Bump in the Road

Sometimes it seems that as soon as we make progress on a goal or some small feat in life, we hit a speed bump – or worse, a road block. We hear ourselves sighing, fretting, or saying “I’ll never be able to do this.” We may be tempted to give up before we’ve really gotten anywhere. Can you relate? If not, then you are in a good place to encourage others who’ve hit a bump or block. If yes, let’s keep talking.

What does your roadblock look like? Is it discouragement? Difficult circumstances? Finances? Sickness? A broken heart? Something else?

Joseph knows how it feels. He was determined to honor God with his life, and kept running into roadblocks. God gave him a dream that his brothers would one day bow to him, and Joseph was excited about what the future held. Unfortunately, his jealous brothers hated him more when he shared the dream.  So they sold him to the Ishmaelites and told their father that he was killed. Well, there goes any hope for the future! (or so he thought) Oh, how he missed his parents, comfy bed, and chance for love. His poor dad was heartbroken. Despite all this, Joseph maintained his ethics and worked really hard. His hard work granted him increasing favor with local leaders, and he was put in charge of more work, and was a favored worker of Potipher (one of Pharaoh’s officials, the captain of the guard). That is, until Potipher’s wife tried to seduce him and then claimed that Joseph was trying to rape her when he refused to give in to her. Well, there went his freedom – innocent Joseph was thrown in jail. That’s just not fair! He didn’t do anything wrong! Can you imagine how he was feeling then? What about that dream?

While in prison, Joseph interpreted the dreams of two prisoners from Pharaoh’s staff. When the cupbearer was released back to Pharaoh, Joseph hoped he would be remembered and soon released, but the cupbearer didn’t remember him. So Joseph kept hoping and working hard- God had given him favor with the prison warden, who put him in charge of the prisoners. Two years later, when Pharaoh had a dream that no one could interpret, the cupbearer finally remembered Joseph. Joseph knew interpreted the dream correctly! Pharaoh was so delighted, he put Joseph in charge of all of Egypt. This was pretty cool, because later Joseph was used by God to help his family, including the brothers who betrayed him, when there was a drought. Joseph was also reunited with his father. And the dream of his family bowing to him came true! What seemed like an off-beaten path turned into a mighty opportunity for redemption and restoration that gives glory to God. If Joseph was not in that position, his family likely would not have received the help they needed. What seemed like a setback was a setup for something greater. So, how about that dream?  (Read Genesis 37-43)

Sometimes things happen, and we didn’t do anything wrong. “Life just stinks,” we think.

Well, what lens are we looking through? Is it the dirty lens of our circumstances? If so, that will almost always appear dirty. The only way to see past the lens is to look outside of it. Aha! Sounds simple enough, but how do we do that?

  1. Remember who God is and that He is greater than our circumstances. Isaiah 41:10; Ephesians 3:20; 1 Chronicles 29:11; Romans 8:28; Isaiah 55:8-11
  2. Encourage yourself in the Lord, and receive God’s encouragement. 1 Samuel 30:6; Joshua 1:1-3; 1 Thessalonians 5:11; Deuteronomy 3:28
  3. Keep on keeping on. Keep walking. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MX1G71WK-FA)
  4. As long as you are living, hope is available to you. Tap into it. Believe it. Wipe the dirt off the lens, peek around it, and look out, look up, look around. Jeremiah 29:11-13
  5. Seek . Ask. Wait on the Lord. Matthew 7:7-12; Isaiah 40:31
  6. Give your concerns to God (Trust). It may help to visualize yourself throwing all your cares into a bag, and placing the bag at the feet of Jesus. 1 Peter 5:7; Philippians 4:6; Proverbs 3:5-6
  7. Know that you are not alone.Others are walking through difficulties, too. Talk about it with someone who has been there and come through it. Remember that God is with you. If you’ve asked God to be Lord of your life, receive comfort knowing that He is with you. If He is not Lord of your life, you can ask Him now – simply by saying to Him “Will you be Lord of my life?” Deuteronomy 31:6; Psalm 27:10
  8. Thank God. Yes, as difficult as it is, start thanking God for as many things as you can every day, moment by moment. Not there yet? Start with the obvious- “Thank you for breakfast. Thank you for my bed. Thank you for clothes. Thank you for this toothbrush, because it helps keep my teeth cleaned and my breath smelling better. Thank you for toilet paper, because I sure would hate to use leaves or cardboard. Thank you for air conditioning. Thank you for the sun that shines. Thank you for the rain that cleans the air and waters the garden so I can enjoy a good salad or chocolate, because chocolate comes from cacao plants.” Say it in your head, out loud, and write it down. Every day. Every hour. An attitude of gratitude makes a world of difference in how we perceive what we are going through. Practice this until it becomes part of your life. 1 Thessalonians 5:18; Psalm 118:24
  9. Opportunity. Keep your eyes open to opportunities to serve God, hear God, and to change course of action. Galatians 6:9-10; Galatians 5:13; Matthew 20:28

So, how about your dreams?