All things are against me.
Those were the words of Jacob, a patriarch of Israel (Genesis 42:36) and considering what he had been through in life, as well as what he now faced in old age, his moving lament was understandable.
Jacob's son, Joseph, had disappeared years earlier and this grieving father was convinced that he had died, probably having been killed by a wild animal.
Another son, Simeon, was being held hostage in Egypt, where he had gone with his brothers to get food enough to sustain their families through the famine that was devastating their homeland. Enduring the famine was stressful enough but now some Egyptian official was demanding Jacob send his youngest son, Benjamin, along on the next trip for food to secure Simeon's release.
What else could go wrong?
Perhaps that's how you feel today.
All the things you feared might someday come your way are arriving and you don't know what to do about it. You can identify with Jacob's pessimistic conclusion because it sounds like the story of your life, but it's important to know that this distressed father was wrong. All things weren't against him. Actually, the opposite was true.
Granted, Jacob had come through some tough times and his future appeared pretty bleak, but there were a number of unknowns working in his favor. Both of his sons were alive and well. Though Joseph had spent some time in prison, he had been released and now held one of the top positions in Egypt.
Jacob would see both of his sons again and Joseph would provide for him during the final years of his life. He would meet grandchildren he didn't know existed and pronounce blessings on them and their posterity. Things were going to turn out better than Jacob imagined when he concluded all things were against him.
During my teens, I discovered a Bible verse that I saw as a means of staying calm in any crisis, a faith builder for all circumstances: And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).
You've chosen a difficult Bible verse to live by, said my pastor; and I couldn't imagine what he could be talking about. Why would it be difficult to live by a promise that God is in control and would make everything work out for my good? Years later, after living through times that tested my faith, I would understand the wisdom of my pastor's words, but I have never found God's promises to be untrue.
A pastor once visited a farmer and saw a sign on his weathervane that said "God is love." Do you mean that God's love is as changeable as the weather? asked the pastor. No, replied the farmer, I mean God loves me no matter which way the wind blows.
Roger Campbell is an author, a broadcaster and columnist who was a pastor for 22 years. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org