Through And In Spite Of

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Sunday - 9:15 AM Sunday School, 10:30 AM Worship Service

by: Denise Robinson

11/12/2021

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Last week, in our look at the life of Jacob (through the book "Escaping with Jacob" by David Ramos), we jumped to a later point in Jacob's life and were introduced to his son, Joseph. You may know some things about Joseph's life, particularly his "amazing technicolor dream coat" (or coat of many colors). Over the past weeks, we have seen how God has repeatedly blessed Jacob, but certainly not because Jacob was perfect. He's not going to win any father-of-the-year contests, that's for sure. And yet, God still has a plan....       
__________________________
Week 20: Read Genesis 37:12-36 (Through And In Spite Of)


"Jacob's worst fears are realized only a short way into the Joseph saga. Joseph is told to go out and check on his brothers who are tending the flocks. He does so obediently, but right away the reader is aware that he was not with his brothers in the first place. The boy travels a long distance, and his brothers spot him first. They waste no time. Their father's favoritism coupled with Joseph's (likely) spoiled actions are too much to take and so the brothers plot to take his life. Surprisingly, Reuben interjects - wanting not to go to such an extreme (maybe to make up for how he disgraced his father in chapter 35). 

The brothers agree to throw Joseph into an empty well. But before they do, another opportunity arises, this time to sell the boy to some traders. Again, they waste no time and send their brother off to another land, expecting to never see him again. The group of brothers return home and lay a bloody coat before their father, convincing him that his favorite son has died. They have deceived their father like Jacob had done to Isaac, only to a much more gruesome degree. 
Finally, the chapter ends not with grieving, but with a glimmer of hope. Jospeh has made it to Egypt. His story is far from finished and there is a chance for his dreams to yet come true. 

I tend to forget how painful this really must have been for Joseph and Jacob because I already know how the story of Joseph ends. When all of this was happening, they did not know what the future held. They had no idea about the famine that was to come, or the promotions Joseph would experience, or the providence that would bring the family back together. 

We read these horrible events and think - this is how it had to happen so God probably just let it happen that way and never blinked an eye. There is this idea that because God allows evil in this world it must be one of the tools God uses. Like watercolor paints: love is pink, forgiveness is green, hope is blue, and evil is red or black. So, God paints away, using what colors are needed to make the picture appear the way God desires. But that's not how it works. In reading through this scene, there is a phrase that keeps coming up: through and in spite of....

The phrase "through and in spite of" has two parts. First, God takes our painful evets and works through them. In Jospeh's case, God took the boy's placement in Egypt and structured it to fulfill God's ultimate plan of expanding Israel. Second, God also worked in spite of what his brothers did. That means God never wanted any of this to happen. He didn't want Jacob to spoil one son over the others, nor did he want the brothers to hate and beat and sell Joseph. 

You see, God doesn't work with evil. God works "in spite of" evil. Pain and suffering are never "colors" God desires to paint with, but God knows they are there. It's God who keeps working behind and around the scenes, moving us toward fulfillment of God's plan. The evil in our lives is as much a sorrow for God as it is for us. We can rest assured that when pain does enter our lives, God is still painting. And even if we find ourselves in Egypt, God will use our displacement as the basis for our ultimate good." 
__________________________________
Takeaway from today's lesson: God works through and in spite of evil, never with it.

Prayer: God, thank you that you are working and planning for my good. Please keep me from wicked events, but when they come, remind me that you will use them for my good. Amen.

Last week, in our look at the life of Jacob (through the book "Escaping with Jacob" by David Ramos), we jumped to a later point in Jacob's life and were introduced to his son, Joseph. You may know some things about Joseph's life, particularly his "amazing technicolor dream coat" (or coat of many colors). Over the past weeks, we have seen how God has repeatedly blessed Jacob, but certainly not because Jacob was perfect. He's not going to win any father-of-the-year contests, that's for sure. And yet, God still has a plan....       
__________________________
Week 20: Read Genesis 37:12-36 (Through And In Spite Of)


"Jacob's worst fears are realized only a short way into the Joseph saga. Joseph is told to go out and check on his brothers who are tending the flocks. He does so obediently, but right away the reader is aware that he was not with his brothers in the first place. The boy travels a long distance, and his brothers spot him first. They waste no time. Their father's favoritism coupled with Joseph's (likely) spoiled actions are too much to take and so the brothers plot to take his life. Surprisingly, Reuben interjects - wanting not to go to such an extreme (maybe to make up for how he disgraced his father in chapter 35). 

The brothers agree to throw Joseph into an empty well. But before they do, another opportunity arises, this time to sell the boy to some traders. Again, they waste no time and send their brother off to another land, expecting to never see him again. The group of brothers return home and lay a bloody coat before their father, convincing him that his favorite son has died. They have deceived their father like Jacob had done to Isaac, only to a much more gruesome degree. 
Finally, the chapter ends not with grieving, but with a glimmer of hope. Jospeh has made it to Egypt. His story is far from finished and there is a chance for his dreams to yet come true. 

I tend to forget how painful this really must have been for Joseph and Jacob because I already know how the story of Joseph ends. When all of this was happening, they did not know what the future held. They had no idea about the famine that was to come, or the promotions Joseph would experience, or the providence that would bring the family back together. 

We read these horrible events and think - this is how it had to happen so God probably just let it happen that way and never blinked an eye. There is this idea that because God allows evil in this world it must be one of the tools God uses. Like watercolor paints: love is pink, forgiveness is green, hope is blue, and evil is red or black. So, God paints away, using what colors are needed to make the picture appear the way God desires. But that's not how it works. In reading through this scene, there is a phrase that keeps coming up: through and in spite of....

The phrase "through and in spite of" has two parts. First, God takes our painful evets and works through them. In Jospeh's case, God took the boy's placement in Egypt and structured it to fulfill God's ultimate plan of expanding Israel. Second, God also worked in spite of what his brothers did. That means God never wanted any of this to happen. He didn't want Jacob to spoil one son over the others, nor did he want the brothers to hate and beat and sell Joseph. 

You see, God doesn't work with evil. God works "in spite of" evil. Pain and suffering are never "colors" God desires to paint with, but God knows they are there. It's God who keeps working behind and around the scenes, moving us toward fulfillment of God's plan. The evil in our lives is as much a sorrow for God as it is for us. We can rest assured that when pain does enter our lives, God is still painting. And even if we find ourselves in Egypt, God will use our displacement as the basis for our ultimate good." 
__________________________________
Takeaway from today's lesson: God works through and in spite of evil, never with it.

Prayer: God, thank you that you are working and planning for my good. Please keep me from wicked events, but when they come, remind me that you will use them for my good. Amen.

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