What is the difference between happiness and joy? How about between mourning and dismay? What keeps trials from becoming desperation, and sadness from depression? There is one word; one concept or idea that divides these from each other. That is hope. Hope creates joy (long-term & deeply rooted) rather than happiness (short-term & fleeting). Hope separates mourning (the natural response to loss) from dismay (fear of facing the future resulting from loss). This almost undefinable, nugget of life we call hope is a key and defining ingredient that separates sadness from depression.
Jacob is dead; he has died of old age. The time of mourning is here, and Joseph and his brothers work to fulfill their responsibility to bury him in the cave of his fathers resting place. There is a huge procession of Israelites and Egyptians that carries the body of Jacob to the burial mound. All that is expected and more has been done.
With the passing of their father, Joseph’s older brothers begin to lose that hope. Their past sin that has continued to haunt them their entire lives now comes to a head. What will Joseph do to them? What will he do to their families and children? Will he enslave them as they did to him? Will he treat them with cruelty and contempt? Will he have Pharaoh and the Egyptians do it for him? So many troubles caused by one choice. They fear because of the seeds sown by their own actions so long ago.
What does Joseph do? He relieves them of those full grown weeds; the result of those seeds planted so long ago. He gives them hope. He tells them that all that they did was part of the plan meant not for the destruction of his life, but for life for the Egyptians and themselves. They have no need to fear. They have no need to be troubled. God has a plan bigger than they are, and all this trouble and fear is simply wasted life.
How about us? Do we have a hope, or are we buried in our mourning and fear? Does mourning turn to dismay and sadness become depression? It’s time to let all of that go, and to seek the hope that has been freely offered and given. The one who has created us has a plan. He has a purpose that includes you and me. We need to pursue Him… to find He who has been pursuing us. Are you ready?
Rev. John Camiolo
“It all comes down to this.” How often in our lives do we work towards something; desiring for it to come to pass, and then it all comes down to the wire? It is the moment of truth. Will the hero save the day? Will the girl say. “Yes!”? Will he get the job that will spark his career and set him on the path for greatness? Will she get the score that she needs to get into the prestigious school that she wants?
This is just such a time for Joseph and his brothers. Joseph is pulling the strings and testing his brothers. He needs to know if they are still the same bitter, angry, jealous men they were when they decided to kill him and ended up selling him into slavery for a few coins. Is his little brother in just as much trouble as he was by being with them? Will they stand up for him, or give him away to whomever will take him? The plan is in place, and the opportunity is given. How will they respond, and what will it mean for them?
I wonder sometimes in reading this, what would have happened if the brothers had made the wrong choice? Ultimately we don’t know, because it never did. Judah stood up and wisely and tactfully responded to the problem. He explained the situation desiring to get Benjamin off the hook, but needing to do so without making this ruler / lord lose face. He sacrifices himself so that his younger brother (and father) would live.
Would you or I be willing and able to make the same choice?
Joseph’s brothers need to return to get food / sustenance, but boy is it a chore. They know what they have been told by Joseph. They cannot return to Egypt without their youngest brother. They also know that their father is not going to let Benjamin go without a fight. So the argument ensues. Jacob / Israel wails and moans that if they take Benjamin he will lose a second son. They remind him that if he doesn’t let Benjamin go, they will not be able to buy food. Jacob complains that they are trying to send him to an early grave. They remind him that if he does not let them go, he, they, and all the grandchildren will dis as well. Judah takes full responsibility for Benjamin’s health and safety. So Jacob / Israel finally consents.
So they return with not only Benjamin, but the money from the first trip that they found in their bags on the return home. When they return to Egypt Joseph arranges for them to eat with him. They are worried about the money, but Joseph’s intent is only to eat with them and see how they respond. In the process, Joseph has the table set up youngest to oldest, to their surprise.
How about us? How often does God do the same thing. He wants to sup with us. He wants to spend time with us. He wants relationship with us. What is our focus? We focus on what we want, or what we are afraid of, or what we have done wrong. We allow those things to prevent us from having a blessed celebration with our Father. All He wants is for us to return to Him, and we are still afraid that He might find out about something that we are ashamed of.
Is that where you’re at today? Are you missing out on an amazing relationship with the LORD because you are afraid of His response to something that happened in the past. Well, get over it; “Stop it!”
And working together with Him, we also urge you not to receive the grace of God in vain– for He says,”AT THE ACCEPTABLE TIME I LISTENED TO YOU,
AND ON THE DAY OF SALVATION I HELPED YOU.”
Behold, now is “THE ACCEPTABLE TIME,” behold, now is “THE DAY OF SALVATION”– (II Corinthians 6:1-2 NASB)