WHAT IS GOD DOING?
Loving Father, help me bring my struggling thoughts into focus, so that I may be with You more fully, and rejoice in You.
Read GENESIS 42:25–38
25 Joseph gave orders to fill their bags with grain, to put each man’s silver back in his sack, and to give them provisions for their journey. After this was done for them, 26 they loaded their grain on their donkeys and left.
27 At the place where they stopped for the night one of them opened his sack to get feed for his donkey, and he saw his silver in the mouth of his sack. 28 “My silver has been returned,” he said to his brothers. “Here it is in my sack.”
Their hearts sank and they turned to each other trembling and said, “What is this that God has done to us?”
29 When they came to their father Jacob in the land of Canaan, they told him all that had happened to them. They said, 30 “The man who is lord over the land spoke harshly to us and treated us as though we were spying on the land. 31 But we said to him, ‘We are honest men; we are not spies. 32 We were twelve brothers, sons of one father. One is no more, and the youngest is now with our father in Canaan.’
33 “Then the man who is lord over the land said to us, ‘This is how I will know whether you are honest men: Leave one of your brothers here with me, and take food for your starving households and go. 34 But bring your youngest brother to me so I will know that you are not spies but honest men. Then I will give your brother back to you, and you can trade[a] in the land.’”
35 As they were emptying their sacks, there in each man’s sack was his pouch of silver! When they and their father saw the money pouches, they were frightened. 36 Their father Jacob said to them, “You have deprived me of my children. Joseph is no more and Simeon is no more, and now you want to take Benjamin. Everything is against me!”
37 Then Reuben said to his father, “You may put both of my sons to death if I do not bring him back to you. Entrust him to my care, and I will bring him back.”
38 But Jacob said, “My son will not go down there with you; his brother is dead and he is the only one left. If harm comes to him on the journey you are taking, you will bring my gray head down to the grave in sorrow.”
- Genesis 42:34 Or move about freely
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
‘How long, LORD? Will you forget me forever? How long will You hide Your face from me?’1
After leaving Simeon behind upon Joseph’s insistence as a guarantee of their return with Benjamin, the brothers’ journey home to their father is not going to be easy. Bad rapidly becomes worse when, en route, they discover a payment they’d made for the grain in one of the sacks. Panic ensues. On arriving home, they discover it is even worse, since all their silver has been returned. Joseph, already suspicious and hostile to them, would surely take this as proof of guilt. Furthermore, they’d never be received back at the Egyptian court unless Benjamin, who could immediately be taken hostage, is with them. Worst of all, they must now tell their father, who must feel that every time they leave, they return ‘minus a brother’!2
The pervasive emotion in these verses is fear – a fear that God is going back on His promise to Abraham to make them a great people. It’s palpable. The brothers fear that God is punishing them for their past misdeeds (28). The father fears he’s going to end his life with all his hopes and dreams shattered (38). Believing that Joseph is dead, he fights to keep Benjamin under his close protection. He’s lost two children; he does not want to lose a third. Some accuse Jacob of being self-absorbed and simply seeing everything from his own selfish viewpoint, but the hurts of life surely make that understandable. He seems almost suicidal.
Sometimes we hit patches where we too want to cry out, ‘What is God doing?’ Dreams are shattered, hopes are unfulfilled, challenges mount, suffering invades, and chaos lurks – but the story hasn’t ended yet. That’s the time to hold on and let God have His way, which always proves good in the end.
The deepest faith is trusting God – not just when He gives us what we want, but when He appears to say no – and still believe Him to be good.
Words of the gospel hymn come to mind, “I am trusting Thee Lord Jesus, Trusting only Thee.…” Yes Lord, I am trusting You not just for salvation, but in all the ups and downs of my life!
1 Ps 13:1 2 Victor Hamilton, The Book of Genesis, Chapters 18–50, NICOT, Eerdmans, 1995, p535
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