"Pharaoh's dream" by Owen Jones - http://www.gallery.oldbookart.com/main.php?g2_itemId=30588. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Pharaoh%27s_dream.JPG#/media/File:Pharaoh%27s_dream.JPG
“Pharaoh’s dream” by Owen Jones – http://www.gallery.oldbookart.com/main.php?g2_itemId=30588. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons – https://goo.gl/mij162

Genesis 41:1 – Then it came to pass, at the end of two full years, that Pharaoh had a dream; and behold, he stood by the river.

Do all of our prayers get answered?  I was fortunate enough to go to a Steve Green concert this last Friday night.  One of the ways the concert was great was how he integrated a child choir into the performance.  Of course, he’s had several kids’ albums through the years, and I know I grew up on one of them (which means he’s been doing this probably longer than I’ve been alive, which is starting to become a long time).  Anyhow, he was able to do a great job of warming up the kids before each song, and one of the questions that he asked before they sang a scripture song about praying was, “Does Jesus answer all of our prayers?”

There was a VERY mixed response at first from the little ones.  Plenty of ‘No’s mixed in with the ‘Yes’s.  Then the volume spectrum shifted until only the ‘Yes’s were left as the ‘No’s realized they might have not gotten something right.  Steve then went on to tell the kids that all of our prayers get answered.  Sometimes it is ‘Yes’, sometimes it is ‘No’, and sometimes the answer is later.  “But he does this because he loves us and knows what’s best for us.” #teachingmoment

We pick up with Joseph after TWO YEARS.  He had been forgotten by the butler for two long years.  You know there were lots of prayers during that time, especially at the beginning.

“God, why have I been forgotten?  Please help him remember so I can get out of here!”

“Please, help me get out of here!”

“When will I get out of here?”

Sometimes bad things happen to us humans because we are living in the war zone of this world, and are caught in the crossfire of the bad decisions of other people.  If someone is playing with their phone, and runs into the back of your car, it’s not like God planned that for some great good.  It was just a stupid mistake on the part of the other person, with unfortunate consequences.

Ecclesiastes 9:11 – I returned and saw under the sun that— The race is not to the swift, Nor the battle to the strong, Nor bread to the wise, Nor riches to men of understanding, Nor favor to men of skill; But time and chance happen to them all.

Also, not everything that happens here on Earth is God’s will.  We all can choose, and we make a lot of bad choices.  That’s why we’re commanded to pray:

Matthew 6:10 – Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

But what if we end up in a bad situation because God wants us there?  What if we end up in a situation where, say, God needs a double-leg amputee to witness help other double-leg amputees not lose hope after dismemberment in a war or accident?  What if God needs a cancer patient to show and share faith to those that are suffering without knowledge of the peace the Savior can bring?  What, if you could see things from God’s perspective that He needs you in that painful situation, and it is where you could do the most good?

The question is, how are we to know the difference, whether something was random or evil, or if God had a plan for a specific action?

Is there really a way to know?

I’m not going to justify an evil situation like a molestation, or Joseph’s brother’s betraying him with a possibly lethal outcome.  What I will say is that terrible events don’t have to ruin our lives.  God can still use us no matter what our circumstances are.  If we emerge from the ruins of our own poor choices, or someone else’s, God can take our situation, and use it as a powerful tool for us to relate to other hurting people.

Isaiah 43:10 – “Youare My witnesses,” says the Lord, “And My servant whom I have chosen, That you may know and believe Me, And understand that I am He. Before Me there was no God formed, Nor shall there be after Me.

Ironically, our pain and loss can make us more useful than we might otherwise have been.  We shouldn’t lose hope because of our trauma, rather, we can realize that God can still use us, and perhaps use us more than otherwise, because we have an increased sensitivity to sin and the suffering it causes.  Maybe God will take your story of recovery from, say, anorexia, and use it to bless others.  Maybe you will become so useful through your tragedy that you will be chosen to be the number two of a nation.

God loves you, He has not forgotten about you, and He has a usefulness for your life that you can perform better than anyone else.

Jeremiah 29:11 – For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.