Last of Us 2, Iron Man VR, Deferred Destiny and Delayed Dreams (Genesis 37-42)

When it rains, it pours… while bad news in the gaming realm certainly pales in comparison to the tragedies of the world around us today, this news still hit like a completely unwelcome sucker punch.  When Sony announced indefinite delays last week to BOTH Last of Us 2 as well as Iron Man VR, it was just another undesired insult added to this season of seemingly never-ending injury.  I mean, the games were due out next MONTH.  They were practically here.  Even if they weren’t flawlessly finished, let’s keep it real… has that ever stopped a company from releasing before?  For crying out loud, Fallout 76 STILL isn’t finished and it’s been out for over a year.  As gamers we receive new games from publishers that are broken and incomplete on a regular basis.  We are accustomed to getting a massive day one patch on any new game we pick up and are honestly worried when there ISN’T one.  Sony, we could all REALLY use the distraction provided by each of these highly anticipated titles.  Are you CERTAIN you can’t change your mind?  I’ll throw in a Popeye’s spicy chicken sandwich with my preorder deposit…

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The truth is that these delays have more than just one reason to exist… there are several factors.  Both of these titles occupy a higher level of importance for Sony as they represent two of the final releases in the life cycle of the PlayStation 4.  Last of Us is one of Sony’s flagship franchises, and we have seen what happens when even the most promising gaming series launches a critical misfire (Rest in peace Fable, Medal of Honor, Killzone, Resistance, SOCOM, Syphon Filter, and so many others).  And Iron Man VR represents a MASSIVE boost to the relevancy of the Sony VR headset, a piece of hardware that is still searching for an exclusive, mainstream “killer app” in it’s virtual library.  These titles need to be RIGHT, even if that means not RIGHT NOW.

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The current global climate makes successfully launching these titles a challenge as well… with massive unemployment issues worldwide, shortages in the ability to meet production needs, and a host of other problems that will negatively impact both the manufacturing and purchase of these games, these delays are unfortunately necessary.  Sure, these games could be released before they are ready, to an environment that isn’t in a position to support them properly, and without the fanfare they rightfully deserve.  But there would be long-term ramifications to such short-sighted thinking, and with the heavy financial investment into these games as well as the long-term health of these major licenses this is simply not their time.  While it is unfortunate and disappointing, the truth is that often times even those things we have been promised, guaranteed, and we are actively counting down the days until their launch, can be delayed or deferred until their “season” is right.

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This extends far beyond mere video games and into our real day-to-day lives as well.  All of us are dealing with deferred dreams or seemingly delayed destinies in one way or another right now… schools are cancelled, employees are furloughed, plans are postponed, health care systems are in a state of crisis, and doing something as simple as buying basic home necessities has become the new Easter egg hunt.  And in these harrowing times it is easy to wonder why all of this is happening and even to question God on why He is allowing this to occur.

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Maybe you were about to graduate, get a promotion, or just finally get caught up on your bills when this unimaginable set of circumstances happened.  Or this may hit even closer to home as you fervently pray for sick loved ones that you cannot even go visit right now.  One way or another, all of us are dealing with some form of unwanted and undesired impact from this world-paralyzing event.  And as always, the Bible provides us some insight on how we can not only endure these personal losses but actually grow into our God-given dreams through the turbulent waters of life.

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In Genesis 37 we find the story of Joseph, the favorite child of Jacob’s twelve sons.  Yes… the Joseph with the special “coat of many colors”… that Joseph.  Joseph had dreams that reached far beyond success and into true “greatness”, but his hopes and goals ran smack dab into his brother’s jealousy and a pretty severe detour.

Genesis 27:4-11 But when his brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers, they hated him and could not speak peaceably to him. Now Joseph had a dream, and he told it to his brothers; and they hated him even more.  So he said to them, “Please hear this dream which I have dreamed:  There we were, binding sheaves in the field. Then behold, my sheaf arose and also stood upright; and indeed your sheaves stood all around and bowed down to my sheaf.” And his brothers said to him, “Shall you indeed reign over us? Or shall you indeed have dominion over us?” So they hated him even more for his dreams and for his words. Then he dreamed still another dream and told it to his brothers, and said, “Look, I have dreamed another dream. And this time, the sun, the moon, and the eleven stars bowed down to me.” So he told it to his father and his brothers; and his father rebuked him and said to him, “What is this dream that you have dreamed? Shall your mother and I and your brothers indeed come to bow down to the earth before you?”  And his brothers envied him, but his father kept the matter in mind.

Joseph was favored, had big plans for his life, and the future was looking so bright he would have been wearing shades… you know, if they had them back then.  But the tide was about to turn real quick for this young man… first, his brothers sold him into slavery, Then, while he was doing his best to make that situation work he was falsely accused of rape by his boss’s wife and thrown into prison. Things went from bad to worse to unthinkably horrible in no time flat… it would be easy at this point for Joseph to question his dreams and wonder if he might have been better off without them.  But this was not only part of the plan, this rocky path was providing him with the “on-the-job training” that he could never have gotten from the safe confines of his seat on the couch next to daddy.

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By the time we get to Genesis 42 we find Joseph has endured his host of trials and tribulations, been freed from his unjust imprisonment, and emerged as the new second-in-command of the entire nation of Egypt.  And this was not a moment too soon, as the entire land was experiencing a massive, devastating famine that nobody would have survived without the providence of God and the wisdom He had provided Joseph with.  But this came at an INCREDIBLE personal cost to Joseph…  Joseph had spent YEARS of his life as an Egyptian slave as well as a wrongfully accused prisoner in the Egyptian penal system.  He had lost THIRTEEN YEARS of his life to be exact (he was 17 when he was sold as a slave into Egypt and he was 30 when he was freed from prison by Pharaoh).

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We really need to stop and ponder that for a moment.  Thirteen years.  And not just any thirteen years of his life… he lost those wonderful years when his hairline had not yet receded.  Before his joints started aching.  He lost the fun years when your body actually rebounds from a long day’s work.  For anyone that has ever felt that the devil has stolen your best years or cost you valuable opportunities when you were young and vital, Joseph’s story takes the cake.  And through those years he refused to allow his heart to be hardened by his journey of constant losing, as revealed by his desire to help his fellow prisoners with their dreams while he was imprisoned as well as the excellence with which he performed his duties throughout his journey (Genesis 40).   Joseph was used by God as the rescuer of not just the land of Egypt, but the entire race of Israel by being placed in a position where he could supply the provisions necessary to feed his father, his sons, and all of their families.  God knew the end from the very beginning and the only way that the second youngest son of Jacob could become the second most powerful man on the planet was through this incredibly unique insertion method into the Egyptian culture and government that God utilized.

So time to bring this home.  Whether it is through my own mistakes, circumstances beyond my control such as this current global phenomenon, or through the hurtful decisions made by others, I will confess that there are entire stretches of my life that I feel were stolen from me.  And if we are not careful, this disappointment can become what the Bible calls a “root of bitterness” (Hebrews 12:15).  Joseph had no idea that the losses he was going through would lead to his future as a world ruler, placing him in a position to rescue the entire nation of Israel, both present and future.  But if he had allowed these circumstances and challenges to make him bitter, angry, or resentful, the entire genealogical line of Jacob that would lead to David and eventually to Jesus Christ would have been snuffed out in its first generation.

I can’t promise that your pain will result in future world power governance… like the fine print in any good infomercial, these results are not typical and your results may vary.   And I can’t say for certain that these game delays, as well as those that may still be announced in the future, will have a benefit that is immediately obvious.  But within this lesson of losses both big and small, real or perceived, it becomes abundantly clear that the reason for the season you are experiencing may not even reveal itself for years.  But you will not lose ANY time that the Lord cannot add back to you.  In Joel 2:25-26 God promises to restore the years that the locusts had consumed, and He makes it clear that HE was the one that sent the army of locusts that did the devouring.  The years for Joseph were not LOST, they were simply INVESTED into a future that Joseph had dreams of but could never have achieved through a simple four-year college education.  His education through the school of hard knocks was vital to his development into a fair and just leader, and it was the Lord Himself who designed the curriculum.

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Joseph was sent to rescue his people before the calamity had even occurred.  He felt deprived for a time but through his seeming losses his children, his children’s children, and his children’s CHILDREN’S children were rescued from the results of a famine that would have obliterated his entire family from the face of the earth.  And since his family happened to become the nation of ISRAEL it is clear that Joseph’s losses weren’t just for him and his progeny… the lineage of our Messiah came from this family tree.  You, me, and every believer in Christ was rescued from our fate by this costly preservation of the thread that would tie Abraham to Christ Jesus thousands of years later.

Your loss may be for the preservation of something that you may never see come to a fruition, or like in Joseph’s case only after a long walk through the valley of the shadow of death.  Or perhaps it is placing you in a position to be the fulfillment of a promise such as the one God gave to Abraham several generations prior that only Joseph, in his new position, was able to facilitate.  You may not get to know who you rescued or how, but even the most tragic losses are oftentimes used to rescue lives and souls in ways that were previously unimaginable.

Whether it’s an unspeakably tragic loss of life that results in miraculous organ donations that save multiple lives just in the nick of time, or perhaps it’s a painful personal experience that alters your planned life path forever… this may eventually place you into contact with the one person that only YOUR story can reach with the Gospel. Over and over again God uses the painful reality of losses like these to rescue others if we simply allow Him to. The message isn’t simply that this too shall pass… it’s that even this has an unseen purpose that will all make sense in the rear view mirror of eternity.

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