We are currently living in an unprecedented and unusual time. This is the first time in many of our lives that we are forced into isolation, with most of our friends scattering across the nation and world. We did not expect to be asked to leave campus and stay six feet away from anyone around us. The world is changing very rapidly. Sometimes rules and orders change hours after they are given and there is hardly time to catch our breath before more change is initiated. What are we supposed to do when the world is changing right in front of us, and we do not know how to handle so much change in such a short time? To help us think about change and how to deal with it, I want to use the Biblical example of Joseph. A man whose life was marked by change, Joseph stood by God through it all and experienced a great reward.
From the time of his youth, Joseph lived a life that was filled with promises and change. The Lord showed him from a very young age that his life was going to be unique, a promise that God makes to us as well. It says in Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” The Lord promised to give Joseph a hope and a future, and that was fulfilled throughout his life. Joseph’s first experience with forced change was when he was sold into slavery by his brothers. He was beaten nearly to death then sold as a slave to Potiphar. Joseph could have chosen to give up and forget the calling and promise that God had placed on his life, but he decided to lean into the promise made over his life and give his best effort over to the Lord. He quickly rose up the ranks in Potiphar’s house and was soon running his entire estate. He took the change in stride and did not let his circumstances dictate his faith. This way of dealing with sudden change served him well when he was forced into yet another unexpected turn. Potiphar’s wife tried to subdue Joseph into committing adultery with her, he fled from her but left his coat as he was hastily making an escape. She then accused Joseph of trying to sleep with her, and this resulted in him being thrown into prison. This is yet another example of sudden unexpected change that had the power to break him, but Joseph was able to persevere. He trusted that God would not forget about him even in his bleak circumstances. He believed in God, and the Lord raised him up from prison to the highest-ranking official in Egypt. He was used by God to play a role in saving many people’s lives and was delivered into the fantastic future that had been promised to him long ago. Joseph trusted in God more than he feared the world changing around him. The perseverance he discovered while waiting for the future that was promised to him, led to him growing and developing into the amazing example of a man of God that he is. James 1:3-4 says, “Knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” The change in our lives leads to us learning to be patient in the unknown and the scary, but this patience will make us complete. Change will teach us how to be content where we are and push us to be made ready for whatever comes next in our lives.
Change is absolutely scary, frustrating, and upsetting. It is totally ok to think and experience those emotions because that is what makes us human. For me, it has been helpful to lean into the change and try to find some good in it. It can be useful to see the good side in change because if you think positively on a subject, your mind will start to shift into a more positive light. This is the same idea as fake it until you make it, try and find good things amid change, and you will start to see change as a good thing, and that fear will fade away. This, however, does not always work for everyone, so my advice would be to try different ways to process your emotions and stick with the ones that give you the most joy. Take some time to reach out to a friend or family member, exercise, enjoy some time by yourself, read a book, watch a movie, find whatever healthy mechanism helps you cope with your changing situation. Know that this is change, but soon enough, things will be back to normal. Once normality returns, maybe you can look back at this season later on in your life when you are faced with change again. Hopefully, you can take a skill or strategy you learned by living through this change to aid yourself in the future. Enjoy the moment and space you are in because, at the end of the day, all we are left with is how we spent those 86,400 seconds we were given. I hope everyone is staying safe, sane, and healthy. I hope the story of Joseph can be of some encouragement to you in this difficult time. Take care of yourself.
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