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Genesis 42:29-43:15 #eebc2018

We pick up the Joseph narrative with his brothers on their way out of Egypt. Well, all of them but Simeon are on the way out of Egypt. Simeon is imprisoned in Egypt as a hostage to ensure the rest of the family are not spies. On the way home, the brothers have discovered that the money they paid for grain has been returned to their sacks. In other words, they really only end up trading a brother for food.

Which may have been a good trade...

However, they get home and Jacob is not pleased with the results. He questions his sons about why they gave Joseph so much information, why they have brought him so much trouble. Part of this is because none of them recognized Joseph.

Had the famine been shorter, they would have had a different problem. At some point, Simeon needs to get out of prison. That might have been simpler for them, but it still would have required a return to Egypt. Joseph successfully put his brothers in a bind where they will have to revisit him, where he will have another opportunity to address their wrongs.

The famine, though, continues. And the family of Jacob runs short on food again. Obviously, they are not completely out of food options before the brothers set out for Egypt, because that would have been poor planning. Everyone left behind would have starved before they got back! It takes some effort to persuade Jacob that the only choice they have is to go and take Benjamin with them.

Jacob accepts this, but does so with a bit of fatalism: "If I am deprived of my sons, then I am deprived," is not exactly a hopeful viewpoint.

Here we see where sometimes, the faithful falter. Seen from the end of the story, Jacob should have had a greater trust that God would take care of him. After all, God had seen him through many other troubles until now. Did he expect that God would allow him and the whole family of promise to starve? Or be imprisoned in Egypt and die there?

Yet we have so much more in common with Jacob in the middle of the story than we like to admit. God has a purpose for our lives, a will to use us for His honor and His glory. Sometimes, that involves suffering and difficulty.

And we lose heart. Because in the middle of the story, the lights are dimmer than we like them to be. Sometimes, the only choice to be made seems desperate and dreadful, like Jacob's choice to send the boys back to Egypt.

God, though, has not forgotten you. And He has not abandoned you. He will work in your life. You may not like the way He does--you could be Simeon, after all, or Jacob, waiting to see what happens with no certainty of results.

But you are not alone. God is with you. And His work in your life is driven by the Cross of Jesus and carries forward into eternity.

So hold on, make the choices you have to make, and do the next thing in front of you. It may seem desperate, but obedient faithfulness will always be the right choice.

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