Friday, August 17, 2018

A Root of Bitterness?

I hesitate even to type these words, but wow! we are really moving toward Labor Day and the symbolic end of summer. As we move in time, we are moving to wrap up our study of Genesis as well. Making that happen necessitates taking some bigger chunks of the story. This week we will cover Genesis 42-45:15, the reunification of Jacob’s family.

Since we won’t be able to cover every detail I thought I might reflect a bit here on a moment that Jacob has after his sons first go down to Egypt and return with the news that Simeon is retained and any return trip will necessitate taking Benjamin. Jacob is overwhelmed by this news and moans thus:
“You have bereaved me of my children: Joseph is no more, and Simeon is no more, and now you would take Benjamin. All this has come against me.” … [Benjamin] shall not go down with you, for his brother is dead, and he is the only one left. If harm should happen to him on the journey that you are to make, you would bring down my gray hairs with sorrow to Sheol.” (Genesis 42:36,38)
This is not a good look for Jacob. After all that he has been through - despite YHWH’s provision for him away from Canaan, his protection of him from Esau, his wrestling with the Lord at the brook Jabbok and the blessing he received - Jacob still is not able to rest in the Lord. All he can respond to is his loss. All he can see is his circumstance. In this moment, he is not able to see blessings he has been given and he is bitter. Life without Benjamin would be a living hell.

But we are sympathetic to Jacob. We know how easy it is to fall into the bitterness trap. Like Jacob we allow circumstances to dictate our experience. Family troubles, job stress, health failings; all can cloud our horizons and prevent us from seeing clearly the One guiding our lives. Of course disappointment and hardship are realities this side of eternity, but we must remember that they do not define our story.

Jacob is bitter. But it is a moment. Soon his clouds will clear and will be able to see more clearly the graciousness of YHWH again. And when we see him finally he is resting on his staff and passing on a blessing to his children (cf. Heb 11:21). Are circumstances overwhelming you? Can you discern a root of bitterness beginning to sprout? Rest in God Almighty. Practice seeing the blessings he has given you. And trust with the hymn writer:
We expect a bright tomorrow; All will be well
Faith can sing through days of sorrow, All is well
On our Father’s love relying
Jesus every need supplying
Yes in living or in dying
All must be well

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