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 spaciousness begin. For our good, God is the God of both.
There were a few times in my life when God asked me to do something extremely difficult. I objected. I didn’t feel I could handle it. I also didn’t want to face the challenges the assignment would bring. Jacob knew this kind of dread. He swore that Benjamin would never go to Egypt, the kind of paternal declaration that children know is definitive.
But then God overruled. Famine took over. Options disappeared. God hemmed them in so that the only option was Egypt. I’m sure it seemed to Jacob like he’d never see Benjamin again. Perhaps God appeared 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. Misunderstanding, rejection, and unappreciation often bring about the realization that God will open another door. He can also hem me in emotionally. There’s an issue it’s time for me to confront. I 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, I must deal with something I’d rather forget.
I don’t like to feel trapped. My last instinct is to draw closer to the One who hems me in. Yet, 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 lifesaving 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