Out of Whack

Note: This is Part 3 in a Sunday series on the life of Joseph.
Part 1: Messy Family
Part 2: Resisting Temptation

The other day a friend said, “It sounds like your life is out of whack.”

Out of whack…sounds about right.

My kids have this cool math toy, like a Rubik’s Cube but a ball, called a Ball of Whacks. It’s fun and kinesthetic and an appropriate analogy for our life—we’ve got a few pieces missing and others poking the wrong direction.ball-of-whacks-1

Two weeks ago Teen slipped on a wet pool deck and got a concussion. Last week Tween got a cold, and then began vomiting, and it can be darn near impossible to know the difference between the run-of-the-mill virus and a cold + cyclic vomiting. A week of rest for each and they’ve both recovered, thank God.

Long work hours and make-up school work means we haven’t eaten dinner together as a family in too long. The clean and folded laundry occupied prime dining table real estate until it was time to wash more laundry. Wash, rinse, repeat – bodies, dishes, clothes, days, life.

Individually and as a family, we have been out of whack. And when we get this way, it gets me down.

One of the fun things about a Ball of Whacks is that you can whack it apart, but when you hold them close, the pieces magnetically snap into place with a satisfying click. Effort pops the pieces apart but just a little effort draws them back into shape.ball-of-whacks-2

When we get out of whack, like everyone does from time to time, I hang on to gratitude. Gratitude helps me locate all the missing pieces and sort them as needed. Gratitude directs my attention to times I thought we’d lost the pieces for good and helps me remember that, since we came through that, we will get through this. Gratitude diverts my attention from feeling sorry for myself to appreciating the good things, even the very little things. Gratitude takes my focus off me and puts my sight on others.

No secret: life is hard. Injury and illness, job insecurity and financial struggles, relational conflict, long days and sleepless nights, the list goes on. Betrayed by his family and ripped from his home, Joseph dealt with understandable and significant disappointment. But he kept his sights on God and did his best in every situation.

I bet Joe felt more than a little out of whack, more like the missing piece. But his faithfulness—and God’s faithfulness to him—give me hope. God used a situation that looked like extreme injustice to bring about reconciliation and redemption. Of course, Joe couldn’t know that at the time, so he had to hold on.

So I hold on by giving thanks while I look for the pieces and hold them close so God can pop them into shape.

Think about a time when life got you down. How did you handle it?

Read aloud Genesis 40.
What reasons do the chief cupbearer and chief baker have to feel dejected?
What reasons does Joseph have to feel dejected?
How do you think Joseph felt when his interpretations of the men’s dreams proved accurate? When the cupbearer forgot him to Pharaoh?
How does Joseph seem to deal with disappointment?
In Genesis 37:5-11 Joseph has dreams. In Genesis 40 Joseph interprets dreams because “interpretations belong to God.” How might the theme of dreams be evidence of God giving Joseph hope in disappointing circumstances?

In your recent experience, have life’s disappointments tended to be predictable or surprising? Is one or the other easier to deal with? Explain.
When have you felt disappointed with God? What helps you to maintain trust?
How has serving others helped you feel better about your own circumstances?
How might you, individually or with family/friends, help others dealing with disappointment?
What is Jesus saying to you through this study, and how will you respond?

Pray that the Spirit will help you trust God during disappointment.

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