Monday, October 31, 2016

TheLifeOfJoseph : Genesis 43:1-15

"There’s a difference between surrendering to God’s loving providence and bowing to blind fate, and Jacob’s statements show where he stood. 'If it must be so… If I am bereaved of my children, I am bereaved' (vv. 11, 14). This kind of response certainly doesn't sound like the Jacob of Bethel who claimed the promises of God and had angels caring for him! Nor is it the Jacob who led his family back to Bethel for a new beginning with the Lord. His feelings of grief and despair had almost extinguished his faith." (Wiersbe OT Commentary)

Understandable, isn't it? We've tracked the story so far and focused primarily on the life of Joseph and his responses to the twists and turns that God seems to take him through. But here we focus our attention on his father, Jacob (aka Israel). 

I think we've all been there. It doesn't have to necessarily be because of grief of a loved-one that brings this emotion and response to the surface. It could be anything that comes our way that we weren't expecting. This question that seems to be unanswerable most of the time of whether we believe in fate or God's providence (aka His good Sovereignty) or somehow a mix of the two, comes to the surface when we read this text. We've seen a son whose life has been turned upside-down and seems to come up 'smelling like roses' in the end. We've seen the effects of a brothers' hatred for his younger brother and the effects of that decision. And now we've seen the effects of a man who, through the ebbs and flows of his life, has chosen many times over to choose the comforts and security of latching on to his sons to find his identity. Not to be harsh towards Jacob, as I know he is just human like everyone else (including me), but it seems his faith and trust in the LORD is most apparently the weakest in this text. When there are 'twists of fate', he, himself, twists and turns and allows himself to be affected by every turning tide. 

So this question of fate vs. God's sovereignty...I spoke earlier about this and it is still my belief that within God's Sovereign Hand that the subject has come up again. Where do you stand in your belief about this fate vs. God argument? Where do I? Let's put ourselves in Jacob's position and I'm sure we'd reveal our own failings; I'm sure we'd be responding the same way. My mind turns to the story of Job. He was a man with the faith that I'm sure we all wished would be the sum of our lives, but put in the same experience, most of us would most definitely not say this phrase: The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away. Blessed be the name of the LORD (Job 1:21).

How do we respond when it feels like God is not present, when it feels like He is neither present nor cares for us? Though I do not recommend the movie (due to the unnecessary foul language) in the movie The Grey, with Liam Neeson, there is a scene that is very, very powerful. It seems that in the gruff, hard way that these men who have just survived a plane-crash and are banding together to survive the bitter cold and the wild wolves that are hungry, God was trying to get their attention. Each responded to death (and God) in their own way. But there is a very curious scene 3/4 of the way through. Liam Neeson's character cries out to the heavens, in a last plea for help. He exclaims that he will promise to live for God if He just chooses to show Himself then and there. He cries to the heavens and promises to believe in Him for his remaining days, if only He would just show Himself right then and there - immediately on his time and purposes. The cry is real. The silence is deafening. God does not 'show up' on his terms so Neeson's character decides to go it alone. In fact he exclaims, 'Fine. I'll do it alone!', as if to turn his back and forget the honest plea and acknowledgement that there is a God all together.

This mystery of God's will and our response to it is one that I think will need to be wrestled with the rest of our lives. As the New Testament so aptly tells us, Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen (Heb. 11:1). We memorize this verse as it brings much comfort, but we won't remember the verses that come after it, of people who lived by faith and '...did not receive what was promised, because God has provided something better for us, so that apart from us they would not be made perfect' (Heb. 11:39, 40). The difficulty of trusting what we do not see but still hanging on. It's hard to trust in what we do not see. But God.

God has provided something better for us. It truly is a mystery. But may we pursue this Mystery with an undying trust. Believing in what we do not see is far better than believing in what we do see. Truly, at the end of the day, holding on to what we do see, whether it's a person or possession, each and every one of these things will fall away, but if we took this verse to heart, battling with fate vs. God would not be a question any longer, as we would find the true meaning of life to hold temporary things loosely but eternal things tightly:

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also (Matt. 6:19-21).

Challenging words. Challenging character. Do we dare live in the 'not seen'? Do we 'see' that it truly is the better option? Something to think about...

No comments:

Post a Comment