Well, things changed as a result of God’s referendum to Pharaoh alright. God said, “Let my go!” Pharaoh said, “What? You want me to do what with your people? …you want me to make their work harder? OK, I can arrange that.”
Wow, this overarching concept and idea feels very familiar for some reason. The LORD gives a command to do something. In obedience it is carried out. Life gets harder, not easier as a result of the obedience. You would think that when the God of the universe instructs you to take a stand and obediently place yourself at risk before everyone, He would come through when you expect him to. But, that’s not necessarily how He works. Taking that step of faith sometimes means getting your toes run over by a steamroller.
The question is, knowing that that is the case, are we willing to be obedient? Are we willing to step out in faith? Are we being obedient to get something out of it, or is our obedience because He is LORD of our life? Can He trust us to obey even when it means more trouble for ourselves?
That’s a difficult problem for most of us Americans. Many times our outlook is; “What’s in it for me?” If we aren’t getting something out of it, we aren’t willing to put anything into it. God doesn’t work that way though. He’s not a direct “If…then…” God. “If you do this for Me, then I will do that for you.” If that’s what you are looking for in a god, then you are looking in the wrong place. Yes, God will bless you amazingly and abundantly when you obey Him. Yes, you will find peace in your life. Yes, you can trust Him, but you cannot count on Him to do what you want Him to do, or even anywhere close to when you want Him to do it. He works on His terms not ours. However, we are still responsible for obeying Him. The benefits will be amazing, but so will the troubles.
So what’s the LORD calling YOU to be obedient to today?
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