Never be discouraged; life can change in the blink of an eye

Published 2:10 am Saturday, May 26, 2018

By R.A. Mathews

She said, “I was really scared.”

Maddie Poppe had just graduated from high school in a class of 22 in a remote area of America. Iowa. Many couldn’t find that state on a map if they tried.

Maddie was afraid and confused. What would she do with her life? She loved to sing and played many instruments, but Maddie knew she was a bit quirky. She favored pigtails, jumpers, and music from the 70s. She also didn’t believe in herself.

Apparently her dad decided to get her out there, and they played the venues they could book—nursing homes. No future there, but Maddie was motivated to travel to an American Idol audition. Over the course of a few months, from a field of more than 200,000 contestants, Maddie emerged as one of the top three finalists. These three were soon whisked home to parades and packed stadiums of fans.

One finalist said, “How quickly you go from nothing to everything.”

Last Monday, with all 10 of my votes, Maddie won American Idol. She’ll receive a host of prizes including a coveted recording contract.

Nowhere do you see such personal stories of success as you do in the Bible. One right after another. My most favorite moment of triumph is in Genesis 41.

The chapter opens with Pharaoh dreaming of seven fat, beautiful, sleek cows that come up from the Nile. They’re followed by seven ugly, thin cows that stand beside the sleek ones on the riverbank. Then the gaunt ones eat up the heavy ones.

Pharaoh wakes up and then falls asleep again. This time he dreams of seven healthy heads of grain growing on a stalk. Seven withered grains sprout and eat up the healthy grains.

In the morning, Pharaoh is troubled and sends for his magicians and wise men. He tells them the two dreams but no one can interpret them.

Pharaoh’s cupbearer, a highly trusted man who personally served the king his drinks, steps forward. The cupbearer has suddenly remembered a time when Pharaoh was angry with him and had put him in prison. Once there, the cupbearer had a dream and a young Hebrew had interpreted it.

“Things turned out exactly as he said,” the cupbearer told Pharaoh.

So Joseph is taken from prison, cleaned up, and brought before Pharaoh.

When Pharaoh asks Joseph if he can interpret dreams, Joseph says, “I cannot do it.”

Well that’s disappointing.

But, wait. Joseph isn’t finished. He continues by humbly saying, “It’s God who will give Pharaoh the answer he desires.”

So Pharaoh tells of the cows and grain. Joseph immediately explains that the two dreams have the same message. Joseph says God repeated the dream because God has firmly decided the matter and it will happen soon.

The seven fat cows and seven plump grains are seven years of great harvest. But they’ll be followed by seven years of famine so severe that the years of plenty will be forgotten.

Joseph then advises Pharaoh to find a wise and discerning man. “Let him appoint commissioners to take a fifth of the harvest,” Joseph says, indicating that it should be stored for the years of famine.

Pharaoh turns to his officials. “Can we find anyone like this man, one in whom is the spirit of God?”

So Pharaoh takes the signet ring from his finger and slides it onto Joseph’s finger saying, “I hereby put you in charge of the whole land of Egypt…only with respect to the throne will I be greater than you.”

It happens just that fast.

Right now, you may feel discouraged. Life may seem dark, and you may have endless struggles, but God may be preparing you for the life you were meant to lead.

Trust Him. God understands your situation, and He has a path.

Over the course of a few months, a frightened 20-year-old girl went from playing nursing homes to standing on a stage before 60 million fans. In one day’s time, a young Hebrew went from a dank, Egyptian prison to second-in-command of the nation.

No matter how bleak your future looks, your life can change, too. And just as quickly. Trust that God has a plan for you. Pray every day and walk with Him.


The Rev. R. A. Mathews is an attorney, columnist, and the author of “Reaching to God: Great Truths from the Bible.”