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