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The Pit Test | Tested

#storychanging

The Pit Test | Tested

Monday  When his brothers saw that their father loved him more than any of them, they hated him…  Genesis 37:4

He’d done nothing wrong. He’d been trying his best, being fair with everyone, believing he was pleasing God, and they turned on him. Have you been there? You did nothing to deserve the hatred, the slander, or the rejection, but it struck you like a slap in the face. Family disinvites you for Thanksgiving. Divorce papers arrive. Gossip destroys your reputation and you hadn’t seen it coming. The shock is almost more than your heart can take. What? I thought everything was fine. Shock turns to anguish when we realize someone hates us without cause. That’s how Joseph must have felt when he realized his brothers hated him.

We’re not always innocent. When we know we’ve landed a few punches ourselves, we can almost understand the reaction. But when betrayal comes through no fault of our own, the heartache, confusion, and hurt overwhelm us. Our hearts don’t know what to do with such powerful emotions, so they settle for anger. Unlike the vulnerability of a broken heart, anger feels powerful. It offers to be our bodyguard, promising to defend us against any more brutality. But then it brings its accomplices. Self-righteousness sprouts; bitterness grows like kudzu. Pride insists that we don’t deserve this treatment, but the pit only gets deeper. The only way out is to follow Jesus’ example. “When they heaped abuse on Him, He did not retaliate; when He suffered, He made no threats, but trusted Himself to Him who judges justly” (1 Peter 2:23). He showed us how to survive the pit.

Final Thought: When you’re in a pit you didn’t create, follow Jesus’ example: Trust yourself to Him who judges justly.

Prayer: Jesus, you know the pits I’ve landed in because of what someone else did. It was their jealousy, their evil, that put me there. But you understand because you were there too. Help me remember next time that I can survive if I imitate you. Amen.

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Tuesday  So when Joseph arrived, his brothers ripped off the beautiful robe he was wearing.  Genesis 37:23

Everyone knew about that coat. In a day when fashion was mostly grays and tans, Joseph’s gorgeous, expensive robe identified him as the much-loved son of an important man. Brilliant in color, elegant in fit, the robe became Joseph’s identity. When he wore the robe, he carried the authority of his father’s name. Without it, he was just a little brother. So the first act of hatred from his jealous brothers was to strip Joseph’s identity from him. Surely without that robe to define him, he’d be nothing special. But Joseph was soon to prove that his identity was not external. No one could not steal his character.

We live in an age when we can present ourselves in any light we want through social media or photoshop. We even start to believe our own propaganda. “I feel good about myself because I look good on Instagram. Forty people liked my post. As long as other people think I’m wonderful, I can pretend I really am.” Then something strips away the mask and our true character is revealed. It’s no surprise to God. He already knew about it. He’s not fooled by our profile pictures or our Bible verse memes. He’s more interested in our character. When we’re stripped of the “beautiful robes we are wearing,” we reveal who we really are. Because of our faith in Jesus, we carry the authority of our Father’s name and nothing can touch that. Life may strip us of external identifiers, haters may steal our reputation and our pride, but no one can steal our character.

Final Thought: WHO you are is more important than WHAT you seem to be. Are you the same without your beautiful robe?

Prayer: Father, do I live authentically? Am I always trying to make people think I’m better than I really am? I want to be real. Authentic. When this world strips me of external validation, I want to reveal the character of Jesus. In His name, amen. 

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Wednesdaythey took him and threw him into the pit. Now the pit was empty, with no water in it.   Genesis 37:24

After his eyes adjusted to the gloom, Joseph could see that his hands were filthy and bloody from the tumble into this old well. His foot ached from bruising it on a rock when he hit bottom. He could hear his brothers laughing far above his head. Were they gonna get him out of here? Was this their idea of a joke? His throat hurt from yelling. If only he had something to drink. His finger touched damp ground. How ironic that he was imprisoned in an old well and couldn’t even get a drink of water.

Most of us don’t worry about being thrown into an abandoned well, but we do worry about other kids of pits. The rejection pit. The failure pit. The abandonment pit. The pit where people we once trusted turned on us with gossip, betrayal, or slander. They threw us into a pit we didn’t deserve. Relationships broken or reputation stolen, we sit in emotional darkness, bruised and hurting. How did we get here? Sometimes we turn on ourselves with loathing. Sometimes we turn on the ones who hurt us with rage and hatred. Either way, we thirst for encouragement but find nothing. Platitudes taste like dust. People we thought would stand by us vanished and we’ve never felt so alone. How ironic that we’re in the same pit we’ve helped others out of and now that it’s our turn, we can’t even get a helpful word. As bad as it hurts, as much as we hate it, the pit test is where we grow.

Final Thought: The pit is not your permanent home; it’s where you’ll grow if you keep looking toward the light.

Prayer: Father, I’ve been there. Like Joseph, I’ve felt so betrayed and alone. I wish that was the last time, but I know the pit test will come again, so help me get ready. Teach me how to handle it and grow from it so its lesson is not wasted. Amen.

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Thursday When Midianite traders passed by, his brothers pulled Joseph out of the pit and sold him…  Genesis 37:28

“Finally, some help!” thought Joseph as he grabbed the end of the rope and began to climb out of his prison. For hours, all he had thought about was getting out of the pit. But he would soon learn that he was only trading one pit for another. What appeared to be an offer of help turned out to be another betrayal as his own brothers sold him to a band of foreign traders on their way to Egypt. Joseph’s story reminds us that there is more than one way to be in bondage.

“Finally, some help!” we think as we lift the bottle to our lips. As we down someone else’s prescription. As we cruise porn and cheating sites. We learn too late that we’ve only traded one pit for another. We’re outraged when we read of a pedophile offering candy to children on a playground. “But he was a nice man who only wanted to give me candy,” the kids protest, but we know better. That evil man did not have the child’s best interest in mind. And neither does our enemy. He whispers to us: “I just wanna give you candy. Go ahead, get drunk. Pick up someone at the bar. Go on a buying spree. You’ll feel better.” Wisdom warns us that not all who offer help are true rescuers, so we need to be very careful HOW we get out of the pit.

 Thought:  What so-called rescuers have you trusted to get you out of the pit? Don’t trade one pit for another.

Prayer: Lord, I’ve done that many times. When I’m so low I can’t take it, I’ve turned to the wrong things for help. It never got me where I wanted to be. Help me learn to wait patiently for your rescue so I don’t create more pits.  In Jesus’ name, amen.

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Friday  You have thrown me into the lowest pit, into the darkest depths.  Psalm 88:6

If you’re over the age of 12, you’ve probably felt like this Psalmist felt. Because we live in a fallen world with imperfect people, it’s impossible to avoid pits. Some we walked into with our eyes wide open; some were created by other people. And then there are those pits God seems to take credit for. That idea makes us a little uncomfortable. The thought of God removing a cover and letting us fall into a pit doesn’t work with our kindergarten theology. And that may be the point. He wants us to grow up. Dig deeper. Discover Him as He really is. And nothing shatters kindergarten theology like sitting in a pit, shocked at God.

Every Christian who has impacted eternity has, at least once, sat in a pit, shocked at God. “What, Lord? Why are you doing this to me! I was trying to obey you and you let this happen!” Fear and anger battle with hurt and loneliness as we wrestle in the bottom of the pit. And God waits for us to stop fighting before whispering, “I am God; you’re not. You had me in a box. That doesn’t work. Let me be God and I will show you what I can do with your pain.” Then we’re faced with a choice: we can continue rejecting God because we disagree with His methods, or we can surrender. “Father, you’re right. Please forgive me for questioning you. You’ve promised to bring good from this if I trust you with it, so I do. And I will praise you from this pit.”

There is purpose in the pit and we find it when we surrender. Only then can we see His hand reaching down to lift us out.

Final Thought: If it seems God has thrown you into a pit, praise Him where you are and let Him show you the way out.

Prayer: Father, I don’t handle pits very well. I fight them and wear myself out. Help me learn to surrender in the pit and allow you to use it to make me stronger, wiser, and more joyful. I’ll praise you even if it never gets better. In Jesus’ name, amen.