This is the second installment of a two part series entitled ‘The Pit‘ by Chris Watkins. You can read part one here.
“Then they took him and cast him into a pit.” Genesis 37:24
Through the ages the will to survive has proven to be a benefit to humanity. Determination and grit have been key elements in many people’s lives. It could be that the drive to survive in itself may not be the enemy. This enemy might look more like a subtle disposition than a hideous monster. One that places trust in human knowledge and abilities. An invisible enemy that will produce hungry pride which demands the food of conquest at the expense of other people. Or it will
produce defeat, which will feed inwardly upon the soul of the oppressed. Another problem with being motivated by only survival is that there will always be another pit, another obstacle, another threat. If the best I can hope for is enduring this pain only to encounter another pain upon escape, then life becomes empty. It ceases to be a joyful journey and diminishes into a chain of painful events, all the while feeding the invisible enemy.
Or I can at least entertain the possibility that this pit is actually a tool in the hand of a Master Designer, skillfully whittling away unnecessary baggage. Baggage that would prove to be a hindrance to running a noble race. Not only is the current pit a useful tool, preceding difficulties offer an even broader palate of resources useful in the hand of the Designer as He sculpts His masterpiece.
A masterpiece. That sounds much more appealing than an actor in a reality show. Survival takes on a whole new meaning. The entrapped can now relax in the hope that the Designer will provide. Provide temporarily and long term. Provide emotionally and physically. He will give sustenance in the pit and wisdom beyond the trial. This point of view gives life a whole new meaning. What was tiring and wearisome now holds promise and real hope. A new way of living is realized as fresh attitudes toward other people come to life. A miraculous conversion has taken place as people who were formerly viewed as adversaries are now seen as agents of God’s design for my life.
Further using Joseph as an example, consider his demeanor toward his brothers when they were reconciled years later. His initial statement to them was that God had sent him to Egypt ahead of them so that there would be food for everybody. (Genesis 45:5,7) He later added in a more direct way that what they had intended for evil, God had intended for good. (Genesis 50:20) Notice that he did not say that God had chosen to use their evil for good. He said that God intended the process to bring about good. His attitude is shocking to anyone who has paid even the slightest attention to human nature. After the pain they had caused in his life, Joseph’s response was not only to forgive them, but also to be benevolent to them by providing them with more than they had requested. He is a picture of mercy as he does not return to them the animosity they have earned. He is also a picture of grace as he lavishes them with gifts, land and the promise of a stable future they absolutely do not deserve. This gracious outpouring was due to a change of heart within Joseph. A new heart that rested in the quiet confidence that God is the Master Designer not only using the events of Joseph’s life, but also providing tests and challenges to mold him into His masterpiece.
For anyone to view the difficult process that Joseph went through and conclude that it was evil is to presume to sit upon the throne of judgment. Joseph’s brothers acted out of sinful motives, but at the same time God was sloughing away pride and arrogance from Joseph, beginning a process that would groom him to be successful in the noble task for which he had been chosen.
The human experience begs us to come to solid conclusions regarding what is right and what is wrong. To be unable to facilitate this process causes great frustration. This attitude had its beginning in the Garden of Eden. Adam was given access to every tree within the Garden except for one. Namely, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. When Adam chose to ignore the directive of the Lord, sin became a reality for the human race. But notice the name of the tree. The tree of the knowledge of good and evil. God said the result is that man had begun to discern good from evil. In our fallen state it is impossible for us to accurately determine what is good and what is evil. The better way is to trust God and allow Him the responsibility of directing our paths according to His will. Our responsibility is to listen for His voice and to live in compliance.
Man’s accuracy in determining right and wrong is directly proportionate to his ability to receive God’s revelation. James 1:2-3 says, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.” Trials are not to be viewed as detrimental but, rather, as beneficial. Man’s goal should not be merely to survive, but to be fashioned into the masterpiece that God has designed him to be.
The initial attitude may be tolerance of the trial but through time and experience, it is actually possible to not only endure, but to embrace the difficult situations of life. As one begins to realize spiritual growth and wisdom as being direct results of the trial process, it becomes reasonable to expect that God is the Potter who has embraced a lump of clay and is designing His work of art. The Potter’s tireless and purposeful intentions translate into real life scenarios that use all possible resources to create and breathe life into a once lifeless existence. The drudgery of life on Earth has been exchanged for a joy-filled journey of purpose with God. What was once a struggle for survival is now an adventure lived out in the embrace of God’s design and an expectation that He will surround me with the pressures and comforts to see through to the end the masterpiece that He has purposed.
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28
“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:10
“And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” Philippians 1:6