"All things are working for my good cause He's intentional, never failing..." were lyrics from the Travis Greene song that I played repeatedly that Sunday night as I studied Spanish vocabulary for my exam on Tuesday afternoon.
So far Spanish had been going well, I was on top of my studying and got good grades in all of the mock exams. What was even more intentional was the story of Joseph that I had been reading that week in my quest to complete Genesis.
At this stage of my life Joseph's story affected me a lot more than it used to, but nothing took me by surprise more than Genesis chapter 45 verses 7-8, where Joseph said to his brothers after forgiving them for all that they had done to him, "And God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant on earth, and to keep alive for you many survivors. So it was not you who sent me here, but God..."
These were words that I did not remember hearing, neither in Sunday school nor the many cartoon versions of the story that I had watched during my childhood. Even though I knew how the story would end, Joseph's explanation that God had intentionally allowed every bad thing to happen to him for a reason simply blew my mind.
"This is for sure what I'll share on when I lead bible study on Thursday night," I thought to myself, "it's certainly something that everyone needs to be reminded of."
On Tuesday afternoon as the invigilator asked us to turn over our exam papers, I smiled as I read through the text filled with vocabulary that I had studied. I took my time during the exam as I tried to make sure that I interpreted every question correctly and put every accent where it needed to be.
When the invigilator said that we had seventeen minutes left I didn't panic because I only had three more questions to do. However, they took more time than I had estimated because before I knew it she shouted, "five minutes left!"
"Why hadn't she alerted us at ten minutes or eight minutes?" I thought to myself as I finished up the penultimate question. That however wasn't my biggest problem, as the final question was worth more marks than any of the others and to make matters worse I had not yet read the paragraph that contained the answer to it.
By this time, I no longer wrote in complete sentences but scribbled down as much as I could as the one minute alert left her lips. This single yet multifaceted question was where I should've started the exam I thought, as I stared at the mostly blank space on the back page, before the paper was taken away from me.
The exam was over now and I tried to cancel all of the "should haves", "could haves" and "would haves" by committing everything that had just happened to God. Until the next day when the results came back I had not realised how great the percentage of marks was that I had basically thrown away, I was devastated by my barely passing grade, and the walk back to my room on campus seemed like miles as I tried to hold back tears.
Suddenly the lyrics from the Travis Greene song came back to me and I was angry not just at the invigilator who should have done a better job at keeping us informed of the time, but at myself and at God for being intentional.
"Couldn't He have been intentional in another way? He knows how important my grades are to me." I thought to myself, as I made the long distance call home to offload the burden onto my mother. I could hear the sadness in her voice as the waterfall of tears flowing from my eyes inhibited my audibility.
I told her of my plans to skip church cell group and instead sit in my room and stare at the wall, but for some reason she thought that it might be a better idea to go, so I obliged. On the walk over I was quite numb, I was no longer angry at God but I tried to keep the issue out of mind.
The Importance of Fellowship
As I entered, one of the leaders exclaimed, "There you are! Could you lead worship for us?" My declining response may have been a bit too abrupt and as a result led to the only question that I did not want to be asked, "Is everything okay?" The tears welled up in my eyes and I quickly lowered my head so that no one could see.
As I tried to choke them back, a rebellious drop fell onto the cement floor and I wished that the earth would swallow it. Slightly raising my head I saw everyone's eyes glued to me, "Why are you all staring at me!" I exclaimed, to which one response was, "Because we care Danielle..."
At this point I politely asked that they stop as my pride forced me to plan a getaway strategy. While they sang worship songs a greater peace overthrew my pride and amidst tears I told them all that had happened. This sparked a similar story of encouragement to which the girl next to me said thank you, because even though it was intended for me, it was also what she needed.
Soon everyone had a story to share about the struggles that they were undergoing that week, with midterms, group projects and nonchalant lecturers. That night instead of studying the book of Ephesians, we broke into pairs to pray for each other.
The following night at bible study, as I shared the story of Joseph and my testimony, the response was much like that of the group of persons from the night before. My smile returned as I thanked God for allowing all that he had so that I could share with others from a position of experience.
That night we too spent a long time praying for each other and as I walked back to my room, I hummed the tune to the Travis Greene song.
Danielle Jones was born on the beautiful island of Barbados to phenomenal parents. She is currently undertaking a Bachelor of Arts in Drama as a part of a joint programme between the University of the West Indies, Mona and the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts in Jamaica. She hopes to speak fluent Spanish someday, do global missionary work and spread the love of Christ.
Danielle Jones' previous articles m ay be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/danielle-jones.html