When God Hems You In


Now the famine was severe in the land. And when they had eaten the grain that they had brought from Egypt, their father said to them, “Go again, buy us a little food.” But Judah said to him, “The man solemnly warned us, saying, ‘You shall not see my face unless your brother is with you.’ Genesis 43:1-3

            Does God sometimes confine His child? Yes.   Perhaps you object. “What happened to the God of spacious places?”  He’s that, too. There’s a time and a season for everything. When it’s time to train and direct a child’s steps, a Father confines. When it’s time to deliver, confinement ends and spacious places begin. For our good, God initiates both.

            There were a few times in my life when God asked me to do something extremely difficult. I objected and had many reasons why it wasn’t possible; I didn’t feel I could handle it, I felt it was a mistake deep in my spirit, and/or I didn’t want to face a certain issue. Jacob knew this kind of dread. He swore that Benjamin would never go to Egypt. He made this paternal declaration to his sons; the kind that children know is definitive. They knew not to argue.

            But then God overruled. Famine increased; food decreased. Options disappeared. God hemmed him in so that the only option was Egypt. I’m sure it seemed to Jacob like he’d never see Benjamin again. Was he frustrated that God didn’t provide another way? Probably. It probably seemed like God was cruel. Yet, eternal purposes prevailed and confinement initiated a lifesaving journey for the tribes of Israel. Egypt was the doorway to their future.

            There are so many ways God confines for my good. He can make me so uncomfortable in a job that I realize it’s time to leave. Misunderstood, rejected, unappreciated….these are often the catalysts for ultimate change. He can also cause this discomfort so that I learn to treasure Him above my own comfort.

            Oh, how He can hem me in emotionally. For my good, there may be an issue it’s time for me to confront. I may have run from it for a lifetime but God places me in the path of others who stir up this old wound. I can’t escape the triggers. With nowhere to run but God, I am forced to deal with something I’d rather forget.

            I don’t like to feel trapped. By nature, I recoil from the one who won’t let me escape. My last instinct is to draw closer to the very One who hems me in. Yet, that is what I must do with a Sovereign Father. I must intentionally run to the One who is wounding me. I hang on to the theology of God’s love and goodness. Through my tears, I know that the wound he inflicts is a life-saving one. Every step I take toward Egypt moves me closer to life, not death.

On the other side of every confinement has been abundant life. Help me remember that in this place of frustration. Amen

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