THE PERFECT STORM
Then he commanded the steward of his house, “Fill the men’s sacks with food, as much as they can carry, and put each man’s money in the mouth of his sack, and put my cup, the silver cup, in the mouth of the sack of the youngest, with his money for the grain.” And he did as Joseph told him. Genesis 44:1-2
Just about the time the brothers believed that all was well, the fires of testing rose to a new peak. They had dined at Joseph’s table. (Though they did not yet know it was Joseph.) The meal had been sumptuous. They had begun to feel the hand of blessing and the knot of guilt that they had carried in their gut began to recede. But God, through Joseph, was not going to leave any past issues unresolved. There was a history of unspoken evil that needed exposure. For the brothers to be free of their past sins and to know the mercy that forgiveness brings, they must suffer again.
Joseph set them up to fail. He had his servant place the royal silver cup in Benjamin’s sack. Joseph could foresee the moment when it would be discovered and the brothers would understand that their youngest brother, the other favorite son of their old father, would be imprisoned for stealing. The Father’s second beloved son would never return home. This time, it was not their fault. But to their father, it would feel identical to what happened so long ago.
Joseph represents a beautiful picture of how God brings a sinner home. God knows how to refine me. What I think I can hide away can so easily be revealed when He shapes the circumstances in my life. He concocts the perfect storm, for my good, in order for bring about a cleansing. Though it is ultimately a life-saving wound, it will feel like my demise. God will not appear kind, but cruel. I might be so angry that I vow never to draw close to Him again. I will not understand at first that this is the path to my blessing, not a curse-filled future.
The key to all spiritual blessing is coming to Christ with empty hands. As long as I think I’m good, I’ll forfeit the joy of mercy. As long as I think I’m innocent, I’ll forfeit the joy of forgiveness. As long as I believe I have no need of Him, I’ll forfeit the joy of grace. The brothers will have to face Joseph again as criminals under arrest. They will appear guilty and their entire future will be at the mercy of a leader they do not know. Prosperity, reconciliation, and blessing are all waiting for them but for now, they faint under the burden of past sins, which have caught up with them.
To live with Christ, each of us have to know this moment. If I have no need of a Savior, I will not cherish salvation and the God who extends it.
Your parenting is not vindictive, but entirely driven by perfect love. Amen