Last week, in our look at the life of Jacob (through the book "Escaping with Jacob" by David Ramos), we read about God continues to work through Jacob's life even as Jacob continues to struggle with his true identity. Jacob's struggles with doubt, fear, and indecision are reminders to us that we will also experience similar difficulties; but Jacob reminds us that God loves works in progress.
Week 23: Read Genesis 45:1-28 (The Character of Our Creator)
"Now Jacob enters the story to joyfully conclude the climax of Joseph's journey. Joseph had continued to string his brothers along and push the patience of his family members, but now he cannot take it any longer. In an emotional outburst, the betrayed brother reveals his identity and admits everything. The brothers are terrified - wondering if they will not be punished for the wrong they did to their brother all those years ago. But Joseph has forgiven them. He says four times that it was God who sent him to Egypt for a purpose to save many.
The family celebrates their reunion and Joseph (as well as Pharoah) invites his family to move into the land of Goshen. There they will be provided for by the brother they believed was no more. The brothers return with a caravan of gifts and carts and unbelievable news for their father. At first, Jacob is silent. It's impossible! But as his sons go on to tell the full story, Jacob comes to believe. The chapter ends with the patriarch saying the words he never thought he would have the change to say: My son Joseph is alive.
If you read this chapter from the perspective of Joseph, the obvious lesson is God's sovereignty. God was the one directing Joseph's story all along and knew where Joseph needed to end up in order to accomplish his plans. God make the impossible possible by working through and in spite of the actions of people. However, if you read this chapter from the perspective of Jacob, there is a lesson in hope. Jacob was beyond hope. There was famine over-taking his family and in his attempt to preserve their lives by buying food from Egypt, he felt as if he was losing his sons. He was emotionally spent, physically crumbling, and spiritually abandoned. Where was God during this incredibly painful time?
But then something extraordinary happens. Jacob receives news that not only is everything going to be alright (his sons are safe and there is food for his family) but also that his most beloved child is still alive. Jacob is so happy that he literally "revived." God had granted him a gift that was far beyond Jacob's realm of possibility.
Reading a scene like this leaves me with questions. Why does God usually wait until our darkest moments before acting? How do we find the kind of hope God wants us to have? When will God do something like this for me and grant me the one thing I have all but given up on? Unfortunately, I don't believe these verses answer any of these questions. Instead, they do something equally as powerful. Instead of answering our "why, how, or when" questions, these verses tell us "who."
We don't just serve a God who is sovereign; a sort of heavenly strategist who is shaping the world towards his purposes. Neither do we serve a heartless God who couldn't care less about our feelings, so long as his plans are accomplished. We serve a fatherly (or parental) God. A God who cared so much for people who didn't even know who he was (the Egyptians), that he carried his children through absolutely horrible events in order to save them. We serve a God who never gave up on his servant Jacob. Even when he began to grow old and bitter, God continued to work on him so that each trial would bring out more Israel."
If you want to have unfailing hope, then you need to learn to put your trust in the character of God. We will always have trouble understanding God's why, what, and when. But we can have confidence in the who. Stories like this give us insight into the character of God. And the more we see God for who he is, the deeper our trust will be in what he is doing.
Takeaway from today's lesson: Even when we don't understand what God is doing, we can have hope because of who God is.
Prayer: God, your thoughts are above my thoughts. Grow my trust in you by teaching me more of who you are. Amen.