Tattoo looked up in the sky and shouted “da plane! Da plane!” in the opening of one of the feel good TV shows of the late 70’s/early 80’s. On Fantasy Island all your dreams came true, eventually, and things always worked out. “Da Plane” always brought the right people and supplies making this vacation the perfect getaway. There are many who would look at what happens in that show and make the analogy that this is what the Christian life is like. You follow God, and everything works out just right. And, to be honest, it does, for some people. For most of us, though, it seems that our lives are like a three-hour tour that becomes a lifetime of hilarious mishaps.
It’s hard for some people to fathom, but following God’s plan doesn’t always result in a Fantasy Island experience. In fact, following God often leads to great difficulties in a world that is opposed to God and His ways. It leads to persecution. It leads to death for some. It leads to trouble for others. Sometimes we encourage that trouble with an attitude that we are a little better than others. Joseph ran into trouble by bragging about God’s plan in front of his brothers. They fixed that by selling him into slavery. Joseph rose to be the top slave in the house where he worked. Then, his master’s wife decided that he would be her plaything. Joseph refused to go along recognizing that his integrity was more important, so she accused him of attempted rape. “When his master heard the story his wife told him, saying, “This is how your slave treated me,” he burned with anger. Joseph’s master took him and put him in prison, the place where the king’s prisoners were confined.” (Genesis 39:19-20)
Joseph bragged and he got into trouble. He tried to live the right way in difficult circumstances, didn’t brag, and still got into trouble when he was accused falsely. Without looking at the particular actions involved, most of us can say the same thing about our lives. “I do the right thing, and WHAM!, trouble hits me.” A false accusation, a difficult medical diagnosis, a child in trouble, a job lost…the list could go on and on. If anyone promised you that everything would be resolved when you turned to Jesus and that you wouldn’t have troubles anymore, they lied to you and I want to apologize to you for that. Think about it, though: if the religious leaders hated Jesus when He walked on this earth, how can we expect better treatment when we choose to follow Jesus? He promised us that we would always have trouble (John 16:33), but He also promised us that He would always be with us (Matthew 28:20) Now, all that being said, it’s safe to say that if we stay true to God in the midst of our difficulty, things will work out – maybe not in this world, but they will in God’s timing. Joseph rose to become the second most powerful man in Egypt by following God’s ways no matter what happened.
Most of us would love to live on Fantasy Island, but feel like that we ended up on Gilligan’s Island. We look at the shipwreck and wonder what we did wrong. In truth, we may be on Gilligan’s Island because that’s where God can use us the most. The key to living as a follower of Christ is to remember that God is ultimately in control. When we make mistakes that cause problems in our lives, God can use our experiences to bless others. When bad things happen to us even though we are doing everything right, God can still use our experiences to help others. It’s not about ease and comfort for God. It’s about developing and building a relationship with Him that lasts.
Lord God, it’s so hard to live the way You want us to. It’s even harder when living Your way brings roadblocks. Remind me of Joseph’s faithfulness when I get discouraged about the troubles in my life and use those experiences to help me minister to others.