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May 8, 2016 | Jenna Tatar

In this special Mother’s Day message, guest speaker Jenna Tatar digs deep into finding God in the midst of disappointment through difficult journeys. Be encouraged in how she found hope and life within the turmoil of infertility and her path to becoming a mom.

Listen to the Sermon

Sermon Notes

I got the best news and the worst news of my life in one sentence many years ago. I had to go in for some cancer screening tests. My husband and I went to the doctor to get the results one afternoon. We received the best news ever – you are cancer free – with the worst news ever – you will never be able to have biological children. Mother’s Day was always hard after that.

Several years later, after grieving the loss of not being able to have biological children, we decided to adopt. Malachi was the most beautiful baby. We tasted the fulfillment of the promise that we would have a child, and it tasted good. But 12 days later our son’s birth mom changed her mind and she wanted him back.

We went through the grieving process again, and two years later we decided we would try to adopt once more. Then we received the gift of the most amazing little girl, our daughter Zoey. Her name means life and grace, and she has been used to restore so much life and grace in my life.

Disappointment has three main buckets:

  • Is God unfair?
  • Is God silent?
  • Is God hidden?

The Israelites

  • The book of Exodus describes the very world we long for:
    • God stepping into human history almost daily
    • God acting with utter fairness
    • God making himself visible
  • If God has the power to act fairly, speak audibly, and appear visibly, why does He seem reluctant to do it today?

What do we learn from the Israelites ‘utopia’?

  • God was NOT:
    • Unfair
    • Silent
    • Hidden
  • And yet they struggled and turned from God frequently
  • His crystal clear guidance did not foster spiritual development

The new questions:

  • What does God expect of me in the midst of my disappointment?
  • What can I expect from God in and through my disappointment?

Joseph – The Dynamics and Vision

  • Joseph was the 11th of 12 brothers and his father’s favorite
    • He was a tattle tale
    • His brother’s hate him
  • God gives Joseph two dreams and he tells his family
    • His brothers hate him more
    • 37:5-11 “5 Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers, they hated him all the more. 6 He said to them, “Listen to this dream I had: 7 We were binding sheaves of grain out in the field when suddenly my sheaf rose and stood upright, while your sheaves gathered around mine and bowed down to it.” 8 His brothers said to him, “Do you intend to reign over us? Will you actually rule us?” And they hated him all the more because of his dream and what he had said. 9 Then he had another dream, and he told it to his brothers. “Listen,” he said, “I had another dream, and this time the sun and moon and eleven stars were bowing down to me.” 10 When he told his father as well as his brothers, his father rebuked him and said, “What is this dream you had? Will your mother and I and your brothers actually come and bow down to the ground before you?” 11 His brothers were jealous of him, but his father kept the matter in mind.”

Joseph is sold into slavery – Gen. 39:1-4 “1 Now Joseph had been taken down to Egypt. Potiphar, an Egyptian who was one of Pharaoh’s officials, the captain of the guard, bought him from the Ishmaelites who had taken him there. 2 The LORD was with Joseph so that he prospered, and he lived in the house of his Egyptian master. 3 When his master saw that the LORD was with him and that the LORD gave him success in everything he did, 4 Joseph found favor in his eyes and became his attendant. Potiphar put him in charge of his household, and he entrusted to his care everything he owned.”

Lesson #1 – Be Prosperous

  • Prosperity: a successful, flourishing, or thriving condition
  • Shalom (Hebrew): completeness, soundness, welfare, and peace
  • **God’s favor and calling in our lives trump our circumstances**

Joseph is falsely accused – Gen. 39:6b-10, 13-18 “6b Now Joseph was well-built and handsome, 7 and after a while his master’s wife took notice of Joseph and said, “Come to bed with me!” 8 But he refused. “With me in charge,” he told her, “my master does not concern himself with anything in the house; everything he owns he has entrusted to my care. 9 No one is greater in this house than I am. My master has withheld nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?” 10 And though she spoke to Joseph day after day, he refused to go to bed with her or even be with her…13 When she saw that he had left his cloak in her hand and had run out of the house, 14 she called her household servants. “Look,” she said to them, “this Hebrew has been brought to us to make sport of us! He came in here to sleep with me, but I screamed. 15 When he heard me scream for help, he left his cloak beside me and ran out of the house.” 16 She kept his cloak beside her until his master came home. 17 Then she told him this story: “That Hebrew slave you brought us came to me to make sport of me. 18 But as soon as I screamed for help, he left his cloak beside me and ran out of the house.””

Lesson #2 – Maintain Integrity

  • Prosperity and success can test our character more than hardship
  • Temptation often comes when we are most vulnerable
  • **We are accountable to God no matter what the benefits or consequences of our actions may be**

Joseph is unjustly punished – Gen. 39:19-23 “19 When his master heard the story his wife told him, saying, “This is how your slave treated me,” he burned with anger. 20 Joseph’s master took him and put him in prison, the place where the king’s prisoners were confined. But while Joseph was there in the prison, 21 the LORD was with him; he showed him kindness and granted him favor in the eyes of the prison warden. 22 So the warden put Joseph in charge of all those held in the prison, and he was made responsible for all that was done there. 23 The warden paid no attention to anything under Joseph’s care, because the LORD was with Joseph and gave him success in whatever he did.”

Lesson #3 – Be Faithful and Hard Working

  • Apply ourselves to the task at hand rather than focusing on the difficulty
  • Be willing to serve God and others and pursue excellence when things are not going our way
  • **God can turn our hardships into a training ground and make opportunities arise from our diligence and focus**

Joseph interprets dreams – Gen. 40:8-15 “8 “We both had dreams,” they answered, “but there is no one to interpret them.” Then Joseph said to them, “Do not interpretations belong to God? Tell me your dreams.” 9 So the chief cupbearer told Joseph his dream. He said to him, “In my dream I saw a vine in front of me, 10 and on the vine were three branches. As soon as it budded, it blossomed, and its clusters ripened into grapes. 11 Pharaoh’s cup was in my hand, and I took the grapes, squeezed them into Pharaoh’s cup and put the cup in his hand.” 12 “This is what it means,” Joseph said to him. “The three branches are three days. 13 Within three days Pharaoh will lift up your head and restore you to your position, and you will put Pharaoh’s cup in his hand, just as you used to do when you were his cupbearer. 14 But when all goes well with you, remember me and show me kindness; mention me to Pharaoh and get me out of this prison. 15 I was forcibly carried off from the land of the Hebrews, and even here I have done nothing to deserve being put in a dungeon.””

Joseph is forgotten – Gen. 40:23 “The chief cupbearer, however, did not remember Joseph; he forgot him.”

Lesson #4 – Trust and Depend on God

  • Remember that our future rests in the hands of the Lord
  • Our faith can reach a new level of maturity as we persevere through our current situation
  • **We can hope and believe for God to bring His will to pass even after multiple disappointments**

Joseph meets pharaoh – Gen. 41:14-16 “14 So Pharaoh sent for Joseph, and he was quickly brought from the dungeon. When he had shaved and changed his clothes, he came before Pharaoh. 15 Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I had a dream, and no one can interpret it. But I have heard it said of you that when you hear a dream you can interpret it.” 16 “I cannot do it,” Joseph replied to Pharaoh, “but God will give Pharaoh the answer he desires.””

Joseph is freed – Gen. 41:39-44 “39 Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Since God has made all this known to you, there is no one so discerning and wise as you. 40 You shall be in charge of my palace, and all my people are to submit to your orders. Only with respect to the throne will I be greater than you.” 41 So Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I hereby put you in charge of the whole land of Egypt.” 42 Then Pharaoh took his signet ring from his finger and put it on Joseph’s finger. He dressed him in robes of fine linen and put a gold chain around his neck. 43 He had him ride in a chariot as his second-in-command, and people shouted before him, “Make way!” Thus he put him in charge of the whole land of Egypt. 44 Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I am Pharaoh, but without your word no one will lift hand or foot in all Egypt.””

The story could have ended here and we would see

  • Faithfulness
  • Redemption
  • Purpose

But God was not done yet!!

Joseph meets his family – Gen. 42:6 “Now Joseph was the governor of the land, the person who sold grain to all its people. So when Joseph’s brothers arrived, they bowed down to him with their faces to the ground.”

The vision has been fulfilled…even though it was sort of anti-climactic.

Joseph’s family dramas – Gen. 43-45

  • Brothers are accused of being spies
  • Simeon is kept in Egypt
  • Brothers come back with Benjamin
  • Brothers dine with Joseph
  • Joseph frames the brothers
  • Joseph reveals his identity

Reconciliation and fulfillment – Gen. 45 and 50 “Do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you. . . . It was not you who sent me here, but God” (Gen. 45:5,7-8) “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good” (Gen. 50:2)

Lesson #5 – Be Willing to Forgive

  • Fleshly desires for revenge and punishment are ultimately unfruitful
  • **We can find reconciliation and healing when we are willing to forgive those who have hurt us**

Lesson #6 – Focus On and Believe For the Purpose

  • We often question the way God chooses to bring His will to pass
  • God loves to redeem our pain and our hardship
  • God goes beyond fulfillment
  • **We can trust God to fulfill his promises despite man’s attempt to thwart them**

Where are you today?

  • Are you wandering in the desert like the Israelites, stuck in unbelief and rebellion? Or turning back toward Egypt to familiar bondage?
  • Are you suffering injustice or loss? If so, how are you reacting to it?
  • Are you trusting and obeying God and prospering in between the promise and fulfillment?

Saints become saints by hanging on to the stubborn conviction that things are not as they appear and trusting God even when the world looks like it is caving in.