Of course, in both of their stories, God gives us a glimpse behind the curtains of providence: The devil was trying Job’s faith in God. The brothers were part of God’s intricate plan of redemption.
Yet, while reading these stories, it is easy for us to miss the bigger point. We are tempted to see Joseph as the center of his own story, the hero in his tale. And, to a certain extent, we would be justified in thinking so. Isn’t Joseph the slave boy who worked hard for his master? Isn’t Joseph the young man who fled from sexual temptation? Would it really be so wrong to think of Joseph as the hero in his story?
A similar case may be made for Job.
Our Bibles may not have the word “hero”, but we all know a hero when we see one. Hebrews 11 names some of them. But there’s something misleading in thinking of “blessed” people as the heroes of their stories.
For instance, when Joseph is the hero in his story, we are tempted to explain away anything bad that happens to him — God was working it out for his good. When tragedy after tragedy befalls Job, we can rationalize the reason and use the heavenly exchange as our backdrop.
But what about Judas? How come we find it so hard to let God off the hook when we think of stories like those of Judas, or Ananias and Sapphira? Why do we cringe at their fates and shake fists at God due to their demise?
In The Horse and His Boy (the fifth installment in C. S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia), there is a scene where the boy Shasta finally meets (or recognizes) the lion, Aslan. The lion explains to him that throughout his adventures, from the day he was born, he (Aslan) was always close by, orchestrating every event. Even the “bad” events. As he explains:
“I was the lion who forced you to join with Aravis.
I was the cat who comforted you among the houses of the dead.
I was the lion who drove the jackals from you while you slept.
I was the lion who gave the Horses the new strength of fear for the last mile so that you should reach King Lune in time.
And I was the lion you do not remember who pushed the boat in which you lay, a child near death, so that it came to shore where a man sat, wakeful at midnight, to receive you.”
In that last sentence, Aslan is referring to how Shasta was rescued while an infant and came to be raised up by the cruel and corrupt fisherman that he was currently fleeing from.
But as Shasta reflects upon the events of his life, he realizes that not all of them are “good”. Actually, most of them seem “evil”. For instance, he realizes that part of Aslan’s providential acts involved wounding Aravis, the young girl currently traveling with Shasta in his flight. Shasta’s question and Aslan’s response reveal a profound truth:
“Then it was you who wounded Aravis?”
“It was I”
“But what for?”
“Child,” said the Voice (Aslan), “I am telling you your story, not hers. I tell no one any story but his own.”
Oh, how we often miss this point. We are prone to always think the world revolves around us. That every other person’s story ONLY serves to build our own, and ours is the reference point. Shasta could understand why he had to go through some tough times, but he didn’t get why Aravis had to be harmed in the process. I think that was mighty selfish of Shasta.
Could the same be said of us?
Every story is a masterpiece. In fact, every story is the Master’s piece. You are not the center of your story. Other characters are not mere instruments building up your story. We are all instruments in one another’s stories. We are all “heroes” and all “villains”. The only difference is that some villains are defeated and destroyed, while others are defeated and won over. But no one is created a hero. Not Job, not Joseph. Only one character in all stories deserves to be a hero, the author of those stories – Jesus Christ.
You are not the “author of your destiny”, Jesus is.
You are not the hero in your story, Jesus is.
You are not the “master of your fate.”
Any victory you have is and must be attributed to the author of your story. The author and perfecter of your faith is your entry into the Hebrews 11 hall of fame. Not you.
“Thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere.” [2 Cor 2:14]