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 all was well, the fires of testing increased. They finished eating a sumptuous meal at Joseph’s table and, all the while, did not know that he was their brother. They felt blessed, but Joseph didn’t intend to leave unresolved past issues alone. Hidden sins would be brought into the open. If his brothers were to experience mercy, they must suffer again.
To accomplish this, Joseph set them up to fail. Before they left on their journey home, he had his servant place a royal, silver cup in Benjamin’s sack. When the cup would be discovered, the brothers would understand that Benjamin, the other favorite son of their old father, would go to prison for stealing. Like Joseph, he would not return home, but it would not be their fault. Not this time. However, Jacob’s fear and grief would be identical to what happened so long ago when Joseph vanished. History appeared to be repeating itself, and it would prove to be too much for these brothers.
Joseph did what God often does to bring sinners home. What we think we can hide away will be revealed easily when He shapes a set of circumstances in our life. He concocts the perfect storm, for our good, to bring about a cleansing. Though it is ultimately a lifesaving wound, it feels like our demise. God does not appear kind, but cruel. We can be so angry that we vow never to draw close to Him again. We do not understand, at least at first, that this is the path to our blessing, not a curse-filled future.
The brothers will have to face Joseph again as criminals under arrest. Their future will be at the mercy of a leader they do not yet know. Prosperity, reconciliation, and blessing are all waiting for them but for now, they faint under the burden of their past sins. To experience the mercy of Christ, each of us must know this moment. If we have no need of a Savior, we will not cherish salvation and the God who extends it.
Your parenting is not vindictive but is entirely driven by perfect love. Amen