In June 2016, the United Kingdom passed a referendum to exit the European Union. That Brexit event stunned much of the world. We just weren’t expecting that to happen.
Then there was the American presidential election in November. If you went to bed early that evening, you likely were surprised by the results the next morning.
Large numbers of football fans thought the Atlanta Falcons were going to bring home the Super Bowl LI trophy in February 2017. The New England Patriots never held the lead throughout the entire game, but won the whole shebang over the Falcons in the first-time-ever Super Bowl overtime. Shocking, I know.
The wrong envelope was handed to Warren Beatty and then Faye Dunaway read “La La Land” as the winner of the Best Picture at the Oscar Awards ceremony. Only “La La Land” wasn’t the winner, “Moonlight” was. What in the world?
Has anyone else seen the chickens pecking around down near the curve on Wichman Street? I saw them earlier this week and thought to myself, “Well, that’s odd.” For a brief moment I wondered if I had taken a wrong turn somewhere down the road. It might make sense on dirt road out in the country, but on a paved road in town? Is this really happening?
Later that same chicken-sighting day, I hurried home after work to do a few chores before heading back out to church for choir rehearsal. In the half an hour that I was home, I gathered up the trash and rolled the bin out to the street, tended to the cat, sorted the laundry and tossed a large load of whites in the washing machine. I added the detergent, turned the knob to start it, and then headed out the door.
A couple of hours later that evening when I returned home, I opened the lid to the washing machine to find that the laundry that was white when I put it in was now brown. Wait. What? How bizarre. It was completely the opposite picture of what I expected to see when I opened the lid. I was so confused.
After some investigating I learned that the fire department had been flushing fire hydrants earlier in the day which resulted in some kind of sediment in the water lines. Who knew? At least it’s one peculiar incident, in a string of many, thankfully with an explanation.
Teenage Joseph had been waking up as his father’s favored son, over eleven other brothers, his entire life. He must have woken up with that what-in-the-world-just-happened confusion the day after his brothers threw him in a dry well and then sold him into slavery. Although he was prone to wild and crazy dreams, this is new slavery reality was something he probably never dreamed would happen to him.
Joseph made the most of his slave days. He worked hard and was good at his job, so much so that he was given charge of the entire household of a government official. He probably felt that stinging tase of confusion again when he was accused of making the moves on the official’s wife and was unjustly thrown into prison. First a pit, now prison, both of which he ever expected and both because other people wanted what he had. He was smart, handsome, skillful, and adept.
He met some other dreamers in prison who were, eventually, his get out of jail free card. Upon his release he again made the most of it, was successful at his work and again ended up in charge. I imagine his knack for dreams helped him envision how things should be done.
Yet, in all his wildest dreams he probably never thought he’d actually see his brothers again, but years later they showed up and they were hungry. Wait, what? The same brothers that sold Joseph into slavery now wanted Joseph to feed them. In the end, Joseph was able to take care of his brothers and their families and had the grace to tell them, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” (Genesis 50:20)
The number of circumstances that cause me to be stunned, startled, surprised, flabbergasted, taken aback, confused, dumbfounded, astonished, or whatever words you want to use, seem to be piling up these days. Sometimes I find an explanation, but for the most part I find myself still shaking my head wondering what in the world is happening in our world.
I tend to associate the good things that happen as blessings from God, but it may not always be the good things that give us what we need. There were a whole string of nearly unbelievable negative circumstances that Joseph faced. In the end he realized that God used all of them to help not only him, but many others as well. More specifically, not merely helping but actually saving their lives.