Last week, in our look at the life of Jacob (through the book "Escaping with Jacob" by David Ramos), we read how Jacob's favoritism toward his son, Joseph, has led to disastrous circumstances. It's a mess. Brothers against brother, sons lying to their father. Joseph is in Egypt and Jacob thinks he is dead. Once Jacob and his brother, Esau, were divided by hate and distrust. God brought healing to them. Is another healing possible?
Week 21: Read Genesis 42:1-38 (Above the Horizon)
"A lot has happened in the life of Joseph since he was first taken to Egypt. He served Potiphar diligently until he was wrongfully jailed. From there, he went on to interpret dreams; initially for the other prisoners and then finally for Pharaoh himself. Joseph lived and acted wisely through the years of plenty and has prepared the whole country for the famine that has fallen on the land. As fate would have it, the famine will be the catalyst for Joseph's family to reunite.
With this backdrop in mind, the story finally comes back to Jacob and his family. The famine has hit them hard and now Jacob is forced to send his sons to go buy food from Egypt. However, he keeps Benjamin (the son of Rachel and full brother to Joseph) behind. In Joseph's absence, Jacob has found a new favorite.
The brothers travel and unknowingly encounter their brother Joseph who is now a high ruler. The dream that caused so much trouble has now been fulfilled as the brothers bow down before him. Joseph conceals his identity and proceeds to trouble his brothers - calling them spies and sending them back with their money and one less brother. Jacob hears their story and discovers that the ruler wants to see Benjamin as well. Jacob cannot take it; the thought of losing his last child from Rachel is too much to bear and he refuses to send Benjamin to Egypt. The scene closes with tensions high and the family still divided.
Jacob is at a complete loss. He feels as though the entire world is against him. If he had any hope of Joseph returning, twenty years has completely suffocated that hope. Now, as an even older man, Jacob is pushed to greater sorrow as a famine threatens to destroy everything he has spent his life building. Why was Jacob without hope?"
Ramos tells the story of his own struggle with deep depression. He says it was as if someone had turned off the lights in his head and everything he thought and felt was dark and heavy. God was protecting him even during that time, even as he saw a counselor and talked through his situation. He recalls the counselor saying to him: depression shrinks your world, so that your problems appear bigger than they really are.
"Jacob's world had shrunk and all he could see were the difficulties that were continually pressing against him. I understand what that feels like and I am sure you can relate as well. The trick to overcoming a shrunken, painful world is to peek your head above the horizon. It means to be reminded of how big this life is and especially how big our God is. It's only when we begin to see life and all its parts in their correct size that we can find peace and joy and hope."
Takeaway from today's lesson: Pain shrinks. Hope expands. We always have a choice which one we will focus on.
Prayer: God, encourage me when my world shrinks and remind me that you are a big God who gives big hope. Amen.