I’d come across this word a couple of times without knowing the definite meaning: I’d had just a vague idea based on usage context. This was until two years ago when I heard it again in a song that has now become one of my favorites (Owl City’s Be Brave). I then took the extra step of checking the dictionary meaning.
Many believers think that being led by the Spirit equates to moving from one bed of roses to the other. But this isn’t always the case. Ask Joseph.
Some would probably say that Joseph “had it coming” when his brothers sold him into slavery, what with his incessant snitching. Joseph’s brothers most certainly thought he did. But no matter how much beef you might have with Joseph, he certainly did not deserve to be thrown into prison on account of trumped up allegations from Potiphar’s wife.
“But Joseph refused (Potiphar’s wife). ‘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… 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?’”(Genesis 39:8-9, NLT [paraphrased])
If in Genesis 37 he was a petulant and spoilt snitching brat, in chapter 39, Joseph had become a responsible, accountable, fine, and god-fearing young man. He was doing everything right. Yet he still managed to enter more trouble.
I don’t know if Joseph might have felt let down by God when he was thrown into prison. It’s understandable if he did. But in chapter 45 when Joseph reveals himself to his brothers, it’s clear that he understands that it was God who led him through those circumstances. It was also clear to him that he went through those difficult times because God was preparing him to save an entire generation, and generations to come.
To the average Canaanite or Egyptian, it might have seemed like a moment of pure serendipity that the nation of Egypt found a man like Joseph to manage them through their famine. Or that the hunger wracked family of Jacob suddenly discovered that their son was the prime minister of Egypt. But we know that isn’t the case.
“I am convinced that any suffering we endure is less than nothing compared to the magnitude of glory that is about to unveiled within us.”(Romans 8:18, TPT)
As believers who are being led by the Spirit of God, we must continue to trust in the leading of God, even when it seems like the leading is taking us through the valley of the shadow of death. Because we know that He is with us. We know that there is Glory ahead. We know that God only thinks good thoughts and has good plans for us.
When the Glory finally manifests, people around will “oohh” and “ahh” at “such luck and serendipity,” but we’ll know that it was God leading us and preparing us the whole time for that moment.
With God, every moment, “ill” or bliss, is a serendipitous moment.