What You See vs. What God Sees in the Narrative of Your Life


After Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery, the narrator in Genesis remarks, “The Lord was with Joseph, and he became a successful man, serving in the household of his Egyptian master” (Gen 39:2, HCSB). A few paragraphs later, right after Joseph is imprisoned because of false accusations against him, the narrative reads, “But the Lord was with Joseph and extended kindness to him. He granted him favor in the eyes of the prison warden” (39:21).

What if we could read our own lives in narrative form? How many times would the same consolations appear?

  • Jessica’s recent break up drove her to tears every night for a week. But the Lord was with Jessica, and he extended his kindness toward her.

  • Matthew bent under the burden he felt for his dear friend enslaved by drugs, and he felt hopeless to save him. But the Lord was with Matthew, and he extended his kindness toward him.

  • Sandra felt like her mind was malfunctioning when her anxiety reached an entirely new and scary level she had never experienced before. But the Lord was with Sandra, and he extended his kindness toward her.

Genesis 39 also provides specific ways in which God’s kindness (or “steadfast love” in the English Standard Version) showed up in Joseph’s trials. The Lord gave Joseph success in his work and favor in the eyes of his prison guard.

My husband came out of a difficult situation before moving here to Louisville to attend seminary. He knew of many other seminarians whose churches paid their way through school with the offer of providing them a job upon graduation. It seems they had it made while he had to breathe in the stale and suffocating dust that plagued his warehouse job. All he could think about was how well others had it while he suffered. But the Lord extended his kindness to my beloved husband. Five years later, he still works in that stale and uninviting air. But now he works with purpose, having what seems like daily conversations with many who have never heard the gospel of Jesus Christ.

As broken and finite humans, we often fail to recognize God’s nearness and kindness to us amid our dark and trying moments. But hindsight shows us clearly how God was truly near and good to us in our storms, just as Joseph was able to say to his brothers in Genesis 50:20, “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good. . . .”

I challenge you to look back at the evidences of God’s faithfulness to you in past trials and triumphs. But don’t stop there. Read the Narrator’s description of your circumstances right now, and find that in your current sorrow, joy, or anxiety, the Lord is with you. Open your eyes to see all the tangible evidences of His kindness toward you right now.  These may look like opportunities to share the gospel, food in your fridge, constant friendships, success at work, competent doctors and modern medicine, or a safe home to sleep in at night.

Whatever darkness or joy you encounter today, remember that our Lord and his kindnesses are your faithful companions.

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