Ben’s mom refers to herself the jelly bean grandma. Before she was the jellybean grandma she was the jelly bean mom. The first time I heard that reference I remember thinking about candy and happy thoughts. But to her the phrase has nothing to do with sweet treats. To her it meant that when buying gifts or passing out anything to anyone, she would take the time to count the gift, even down to the last jellybean. She wanted to make sure that everyone was treated fairly, and equally. As a mom, I pride myself on trying to treat my children equally, and being “fair.” If I do something special with one child, I make it a point to take the time to do the same thing with each of them.
I think most of us grow up these days with the expectation that we should be treated equally and fairly in life. And that we will receive the life that we deserve. One of the hardest things for me to come to terms with over the past 9 months (and really over my entire married life) is that life is not always fair. No matter how good God is and how many right choices and decisions we make throughout our lives, we are not always going to get the life we think we deserve or the outcome that we think is fair.
My Bible study over the past few weeks has drawn my attention to the story of Joseph and countless others who were given so much more unfairness than they “deserved.” Joseph trusted God and knew God had a plan for his life. Yet he found himself sold into slavery by his brothers, accused of rape and even thrown into prison. I can imagine that during those painful years he pleaded with God and man asking how can this be fair? Do I deserve this? But each of those unfair, undeserved experiences helped to align and put him exactly where God needed him to be in order to fulfil his purpose. If he had stayed home and received every good and perfect gift from his father, would he have found himself in authority in Egypt where he could help his family many years down the road when they needed it?
This winter, I tried to jump back into life praying and believing that like Job, God would restore every single thing that was lost and that he would redeem my life the same way. I wanted to believe that God wouldn’t take away something as wonderful as my dearly beloved husband without redeeming it. Deep down I felt like that was what I deserved. Coming to the realization that like Joseph, I may not see the reason for all this pain has been a difficult thing to process. Somedays it just doesn’t seem fair.
But God didn’t say that life would be fair. He didn’t say that nothing bad would ever happen to me, and He didn’t say that everything was going to be restored in a night. What He did promise is that He would be with me every step of the way. And He has been. On the good days, and the bad, I can feel His everlasting presence and comfort holding me up and guiding my way. And one day I hope that I will see how all this pain comes together to complete and glorify His plan (It’s okay that I am praying that day is soon, right?)
In the end, Joseph acknowledged that every step of that journey was ordained by God and was a part of His great plan. In Genesis 45:8 Joseph says, “So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God.” He realized that what at one time probably seemed so unfair and undeserved was exactly what God had planned for him all along.
Friends, life isn’t always fair. We don’t always get the life we expected, or even the one we think that we deserve. But I can tell you that He will give you strength for the journey. He will comfort and guide you every step of the way. And while you may not see what good can come from this current season of struggle and hardship, God is using every step of it for his purpose.