Growing up I often compared my life’s struggles to two main characters in the Bible: Joseph and Job.
Like Joseph, I was different from my family. As the only American in a household of Jamaicans, everything about my rearing was different from theirs. There were no trips to the tree in the backyard to fetch a switch; rules and curfews were nonexistent; and with parents in their 30s, passive parenting was a whole thing.
My siblings HATED this. In their eyes I got away with too much and they couldn’t understand why my mom was so lenient on me in comparison to them. But just as the anger would rise within them, they would often remember the stark difference- I had suffered two years of unfathomable rape and sexual abuse at the hand of my brother. Once they remembered this, they understood why my mom was so lax when it came to me. They understood why the word “no” was never a word that was spoken in my direction (unless it was for my immediate physical safety). They understood, yes, but they didn’t like it.
I related to Joseph so much because although he endured years of hardship and mistreatment, it was all for his and God’s greater good. Because Joseph was sold into slavery, he was able to increase in rank and eventually was well positioned to save his family (and ultimately his people) when famine came to destroy the land. His initial setback turned out to be a major step up because of God’s greater plan. It all appeared so bleak, terrifying, I’d imagine, yet God was right there through it all.
Like Joseph, my brother set out to hurt me because of jealousy and his inability to verbally express the pain that he was feeling. When I think of all that happened between us I recall one scripture that I revisited earlier this month: You intended to harm me, Gut God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives (Genesis 50:20). All of the pain of my past was so that, in this moment, I may lead someone else to Christ.
Joseph’s story is my story.
But maybe my story was also like Job’s…
Job was “blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil (Job 1:1).” OK, that part ain’t me. I am flawed by nature but [thankfully] saved by grace and I often wake up out of alignment with God. That part of Job’s story is not mine at all! But the part that resonates with me is when he lost everything (and I mean EVERYTHING) yet “…did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing (Job 1: 22).” For clarity, that part ain’t me, either. I cannot tell you how many times I have passed blame on so many others for the pain that I have endured in my life. Obviously, the pain was not as a result of something that I had done so, naturally, I needed to blame someone else. I never blamed God outright, but by not seeing His hand in everything and continuing to accept responsibility for some things, I was indirectly blaming God for the circumstances of my life.
Ok, get to the part where you think you are like Job, Michelle!
Here it is, Beloved: I see similarities in my life and Job’s because it was in losing every earthly thing that I had that I realized just how much I had in God. When Job had lost his home, livelihood, children, wealth, and health, he fell on his knees and cried, “naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.” The Bible doesn’t detail everything about Job’s life before his major loss but we can safely assume that in losing what most consider to be important, Job saw what was truly important- our Lord God.
That’s where I am, Beloved. I have lost relationships, jobs, finances, my mental stability, my physical health and so much more over these 33 and ½ years on earth and it is in losing absolutely everything that I realized just how much I have in God alone. In Him I have my peace; in Him I have my being. In Him I have all that I need to rise from the ashes of life and begin again. God takes the ashes, the burned and scorched pieces of my past, and trades them for His beauty. It is when I have nothing that I realize that I have EVERYTHING in Christ Jesus.
I am Joseph, but I am also Job.
For years I’ve known that I was the female version of these two great men. I would read their stories and feel at home in their narratives because it was so much like mine. But then last week as I was reading 1 Chronicles 21, I realized that there was another person whom I greatly resembled.
Like me, David began in a humble way. The last of his father’s children, it wasn’t assumed that greatness would befall him but God had other plans. In his teen years God anointed him king over Israel… and then sent him back to work in his father’s fields. David had a divine calling on his life but it was one that he had no clue when it would manifest. As situations began to unfold in the lives of others (namely King Saul), David’s divine appointment became more and more real and he moved closer and closer to the throne. Yet when David finally ascended to the throne, he made some questionable and downright poor judgments that muddied his relationship with God.
Whew… that last sentence is me all day.
While I am not fully at the place that God has called me to, that palace that He has designed just for me, I am far enough from the pit to know how to behave better. Yet as I look around, I fall to the wistful calls of temptation and sin. I will not blame God, Satan, or anyone else for my choices, but I will say that I understand what led David to pen every single repentant psalm/song that he ever wrote. It usually didn’t take David very long to realize that he had messed up; either God spoke immediately to his spirit or He sent word of judgment through a prophet. In either case, David would soon be on his knees, crying out to his Abba for forgiveness.
And this is where I am right now. I am in a place where I can clearly see that I have royally messed up and all I can do is cry out to my Father in heaven, praying that He would have mercy on me. The woes of my heart are too great to name but they steam from a small seed that was planted months ago, a seed that led me to believe that I was lonely and in need of companionship outside of God. Now hear me clearly, there is nothing wrong with earthly companionship. God created marriage and the beauty that unfolds from it. However there is something wrong with believing that a mate/partner/spouse can fill a void of any size within you. And that’s what I believed. A small, Inception-like seed was planted into my subconscious that caused me to think that the “void” within me was too trivial or too great to be filled by God and His love. From there I allowed myself to be wooed and romanced by the temporal cares of this world until I reached the point where I am today, deeply engulfed and drowning in a sea of confusion.
As I look at where I am now, I completely and wholeheartedly understand how David felt when he penned Psalm 51. It was after the prophet Nathan had confronted him about his affair with Bathsheba and he was heavy-ladened with guilt for his transgressions. Every time I read Psalm 51 it reads as a fresh cry to my Abba. I am an Empath and I can almost feel the pains that David felt in his heart as He sung these words to his Lord God. David begged and pleaded with the Lord, asking Him to have mercy on him and create within him a clean heart.
Beloved, that is my heart’s cry today. Today I have little words for you yet great words for myself: God does not delight in sacrifice or take pleasure in burnt offerings. God desires a broken spirit and a broken and contrite heart (Psalm 51: 16-17).
As I process what is going on in my life during this time, I do pray that we can all reach a point of honesty in our lives when we truly admit to God and ourselves that we, too, are David. God has delivered us from many a situation and has positioned us for a divine purpose… yet we can easily “go left” when we choose to follow what seems good and right to us instead of following God’s heart. We cannot desire to be King David in all his splendor and majesty without first being David, the young and impulsive man who just had a heart for God.
A heart for God.
That’s where we all must start with a heart poised and positioned to praise and worship God in every situation. Whether we are cast aside and discarded like Joseph, in poverty and despair like Job, or entangled in sin like David, we must maintain a heart for God. We must continue to seek Him and His will above all else and then we will be able to live out the promise that He has over our lives. We all desire Jeremiah 29:11 but seldom read beyond to verses 12-14 to see the “requirements” in order to receive those promises. Today, Beloved, let us all declare that we will walk the fullness of God by removing whatever barriers hinder us and calling out to God with a broken and contrite heart.
You are King David; there is Godly royalty within you and He is waiting to fully enlarge your territory in a real way. You are the seasons of your past but you are also the seasons of your future. Your best in God is yet to come.
I am Joseph and I am Job. The worst has happened to me yet it was all for God’s good. Yes, I am them both… but I am also King David. The things of my past don’t define me but were designed to propel me into God’s greater for me.
So, just call me David.