A new year comes with a great sense of optimism. Many around the world echoed statements like these over the course of New Year's Eve and New Year's Day:
"This will be the year that I finally lose the weight." "This is the year that I quite smoking." "This is the year that I make every day count." "This will be the year I find that special someone."
Such statements are trying to make this new year the year when life does not seem to be spiraling out of control.
The Bible describes a handsome young man from a large family whose life seemed to spiral out of control. He was smart, successful and good-looking, but his life was mostly made up of moments that seemed out of control.
As a boy he was sold into slavery by his brothers, who in turn told their father that his beloved son was killed by wild beasts. He was taken from a life of privilege into one of servitude in a foreign land with strange customs. Yet, even as a slave, he demonstrated himself in such a manner that he became the watchman over every aspect of his master's household. However, his great success, looks and energy not only caught the attention of his master but of his master's wife. After multiple failed attempts to lure him into an adulterous relationship, she falsely accused him of rape. He was immediately locked away to be forgotten.
Demonstrating his abilities well to both fellow prisoners and the warden, this young man eventually was rewarded by the pharaoh of Egypt with an executive-level role in agriculture to prepare for seven years of plenty and seven years of famine. Serving in this role brought him face to face with the brothers who had betrayed him.
Here is a man whose life seemed to spiral out of control, both into tragic loss and tremendous success. Standing before the ones who betrayed him, he came to forgive them. He could tell them that what they intended for evil, God had used for good.
When life seems like it is spiraling out of control -- and if you live long enough, it will -- God can use those times to usher in a bigger and better future than you realized. It may not be easy or what you expected, but he can create a brilliant future out of calamity.
Rob Hurtgen is a husband, father and serves as the associate pastor at the First Baptist Church in Jackson. Read more from him at www.robhurtgen.wordpress.com.