You know what I both love and fear; it's the statement "What if" I love it because it's a statement that opens up endless possibilities like, "What if there truly was peace on earth." The part I fear about "What if" statements are their implications. For instance the statement "What if I forgot to tighten the lug nuts after changing my tire," carries some weight to it. This is especially true if I'm currently driving it down the highway.
I read a story in the Bible about a man named Jacob. He had 12 sons and especially loved one named Joseph. He loved him so much that he made him a richly decorated robe to wear. Joseph's brothers despised this special relationship between Joseph and their father. One day, Joseph's brothers were out shepherding quite a distance away. Jacob asks Joseph to check up on his other brothers and report back to him.
Hours pass before Jacob's sons return home but Joseph isn't with them. Instead they bring Joseph's richly ornamented robe. It's badly torn and covered in blood. Jacob recognizes the robe he had specially made for his beloved son. He surmises that a wild beast attacked and killed Joseph.
Jacob tears his own robe, puts on sackcloth and mourns over his son for several days. His sons and daughters try to comfort him but he refuses comfort. He cries out, "In mourning, will I go down to the grave to my son."
A number of years later, Jacob discovers that Joseph is still alive. He would be told how Joseph rescued hundreds of thousands of people from a severe drought that was ravaging the land. He would be told that this was God's plan for Joseph all along.
That story made me stop and think, "What if" What if the tragedies we experience have nothing to do with us. What if there is a bigger plan a bigger story that we're unaware of. A story that God sees in its entirety. Jacob couldn't see what God was up to. All he saw was that torn and blood stained robe of Joseph's. What if the tragedies God allows us to experience are a part of a bigger story that we cannot see. What if God intends to bring good out of our tragedies. Can you look back on your life and see that? What experiences are you looking back on and not seeing it? Many of you have experienced very difficult tragedies. Why did God allow you to experience that? Why did God allow Jacob to go all of those years thinking that his son was dead? What iftragedy is not without purpose in God's story. What ifyour tragedy is not without purpose in God's story. I believe it isn't. This Lord's day, may you find your comfort in knowing the God that will make right all of our tragedies at the end of the story. May knowing that give you the strength to live with the questions.
("From the Pulpit" is a weekly sermon provided by the clergy members of The Weirton Ministerial Association)