You know the persistent song-in-your-head phenomenon? It’s not always a song you like, but it’s on loop. These two lines have been my loop this week :
“I’ve let go the need to know why,
For you know better than I.”
Are you with me in finding these hard lines to sing truthfully? I always know better – don’t you? It started young for me and I can remember the vibes of frustration from my parents when I doggedly stuck to my point of view and refused to pay attention to theirs. I knew better then; I know better now.
Then there’s the “why” question. That starts young too, as anyone who’s ever met a three year old knows. And I have a theory that three year olds don’t really want an answer their “why” questions. And to be honest, we run out of steam and don’t want to give the answer.(Question: why do I need to wear a coat? Answer: Because it’s cold outside. Q: Why? A: Because it’s winter. Q: Why? A: Because it is. Q: Why?… you know the scene.)
What does the child want with the asking? It’s a way of maintaining engagement with the adult, drawing them into their world, seeking to build the relationship. But when I ask “why” of God, it’s often just the opposite. It’s a selfish “why me?” question – sub-text “you don’t care, it’s not fair, I hate you.” It’s that kind of “why” that we need to let go of. And God? He wants to maintain the relationship. He is always good. He knows better than I.
So what about Joseph, King of Dreams? The Bible narrative doesn’t let us inside his private world. Though the Dreamworks film gives him the song to sing, exploring faith and hope, it’s only a guess about what may have been going through his mind. It’s not until Joseph reveals his identity to his brothers that we get a hint of his faith – “God sent me here” (Genesis 45:5-7). That’s a confident faith statement to the family who had exiled him into slavery. It’s a big picture view that must have allowed Joseph hope in the dark times (“But maybe knowing
I don’t know is part of getting through”), and confidence of his being God’s man in Egypt.
Joseph’s faith results in status and prosperity and although there must have been the temptation to taunt his brothers with, “I told you so,” he has grown out of that cocky know it all attitude into the man who is used by God to provide for his family and, in the broader scheme, to preserve the people of God.
Were the tough times worth it? I think Joseph would have sung a definite “Yes”. I’d like to learn to sing with him.