If you guys have been following the blog these past few weeks, then you know that my husband has taken over writing posts for the rest of the month of June. I’ve really enjoyed having him on the blog, and I always enjoy his insight on God’s word and infertility. I think you guys will really enjoy his last post. I find myself thinking about it constantly, especially when I see pregnant women and infants in public. I hope this post encourages you and reminds you that God is such a good God, and He always works for our good. -Ashley
Have you ever heard of RAS? It stands for Reticular Activating System. It’s a bundle of nerves at the bottom of our brain that is essentially the gatekeeper to our conscious. What does it do? It connects to our senses. When information is sent to our brains, the RAS shuffles through it and sends only the “important stuff” to our conscious. Why am I bringing this up? Have you ever heard someone say a new word and then it seems like you hear it all the time? Have you ever watched a new show, one that you love, and from then on it feels like you see that actor all the time? That’s what the RAS does. The RAS seeks information that validates your beliefs or feelings. It helps us see what we want to see. If you’re like Ashley and I, ever since we have tried to get pregnant, we notice ALL pregnancies. That would be the function of the Reticular Activating System. So, when you feel like all you do is see pregnant women, that’s totally normal. We need to understand this system and how it works, or at least be aware of it, because it’s a great avenue to shape our thoughts and minds to God and His Word.
In a second, we’ll read a verse coming from Joseph, who is speaking to his brothers. If you’ll remember, Joseph is the miracle baby from his parents Jacob and Rachel, who struggled with infertility (Click here to read last week’s post). Joesph is also the child who is often remembered as the one who received “the coat of many colors.” Like we discussed last week, God had a divine plan for these children who were born from the grips of infertility – Joseph being one of them. In Genesis 37, we learn that Joseph’s brothers tried to kill him. Later, when they realized covering up the crime was not worth it, they sold him to slavery. If you can imagine, I’d assume that Joseph was feeling pretty low. Once again, we see a situation that looks like a hindrance to God’s plan. A situation that looks like God’s not working for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28). However, once again we see the grace of God. God used Joseph while he was a slave. Eventually Joseph became the ruler of Egypt. Only Pharaoh had a higher rank. So, the tables turned in this story. Joseph is 2nd in command of Egypt, while his brothers were trying to survive a famine in the land. Long story short, they came to ask Joseph for help. How did Joseph respond? How would you respond to your brothers who once sold you and told your father you were dead?
Here is Joseph speaking to his brothers in Genesis 50:20, “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.”
Take another look at the text. What do we see? Humans see the situation as bad. God’s plan for the situation is good. The way we look at things compared to how God looks at things may often times be different. We should always be asking God to open our eyes, to see situations the way He does. Why should we? Because, if I’m honest, I wouldn’t have responded the way Joseph did. The reason Joseph responded the way he did, was because of his relationship with God. He knew that God meant (his situation) for good.
We’re struggling with infertility. Your struggle may be the same or it may be something else. This passage teaches us that how we view trials and sufferings may be different than how God views them. When Joseph was suffering – when he was about to die and when he was sold into slavery – was God with him? Of course He was! Genesis 39:2, “The LORD was with Joseph so that he prospered, and he lived in the house of his Egyptian master.” Although we may not feel it… God is working for our good. Although we may not see it… God is working for our good. Those are promises to lean on. Those are promises to trust in.
Famous author and theologian A.W Tozer once said, “It is doubtful whether God can bless a man greatly until He has hurt him deeply. God actually rises up storms of conflict in relationships at times in order to accomplish that deeper work in our character.”
If you’re like me, that’s a hard statement to read. I’d like to view God as a God who will make everything right for me. Who will make life easy. That’s not what Tozer is saying, and that’s not how reality is. We live in a broken world, so God is going to work inside of the parameters of a broken world. Circumstances that we would view as bad, God views them as a way to bring good. He’s at work! Peter writes in 1 Peter 5:10, “ In his kindness God called you to share in his eternal glory by means of Christ Jesus. So, after you have suffered a little while, He will restore, support, and strengthen you, and He will place you on a firm foundation.” In summary, Peter is telling us that it’s in suffering, that God is at work perfecting us, strengthening us, making us whole, laying a strong foundation. I prayed this verse over Ashley before her surgery not too long ago. Why? Because she was going to suffer for a little while, but God was going to use that suffering to restore her, to support her, to strengthen her, and to place her on a strong foundation. If you’re suffering, please know, that God is working through it.
The only way we can know that God is working for our good (like Joseph) is to grow in our relationship with Him, to read and study His Word, and to trust Him.
The more we are in God’s Word, the more we are seeking Him, the more we are praying – that’s when we start to see things the way God see’s things. That’s when we start to notice all the good He is currently doing for us.
I don’t know… we may even be able to train our Reticular Activating System to see things differently 😉.
I hope you’ve enjoyed the past few posts my husband has written! To read his previous posts, click here:
My husband also writes a weekly devotion called Seeking Truth every fall. He tackles tough questions of the faith and invites discussion on topics we commonly see in our culture. If you’d like to recieve his devotion, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.