January 13, 2016

A story that builds faith

Genesis 42-46 

Right now, we are experiencing family health issues that are more distressing because the doctors cannot find any reason for them. They involve three people with similar symptoms, but enough differences to make us ask what is going on. I know that God knows, and that today's readings are helping me trust Him.  
Twenty-two years had passed since Joseph’s brothers sold him as a slave. When famine drove the brothers to Egypt, and they applied to Egypt’s second most powerful man, they had no idea he was Joseph. Yet clearly none of them had forgotten what they did to Joseph. The question was, had their hatred of him changed?  
On their first trip to purchase food, they failed to recognize him. However, Joseph told them not to come again without their younger brother. Jacob was deeply distressed, but finally relented and allowed Joseph’s full brother Benjamin to go with them. 
 Joseph was testing them, but he finally revealed himself to his stunned family. He sent them home to bring the entire family to Egypt. Jacob was reunited with the son he thought was dead.  
No matter how many times I read this story, I weep, particularly in Chapter 45 when Joseph finally reveals his identity to his brothers. 
"Joseph Provides for His Brothers and Family Then Joseph could not control himself before all those who stood by him. He cried, 'Make everyone go out from me.'  
So no one stayed with him when Joseph made himself known to his brothers. And he wept aloud, so that the Egyptians heard it, and the household of Pharaoh heard it. And Joseph said to his brothers, 'I am Joseph! Is my father still alive?'  
But his brothers could not answer him, for they were dismayed at his presence. So Joseph said to his brothers, 'Come near to me, please.' And they came near. And he said, 'I am your brother, Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt. And now do not be distressed or angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life. For the famine has been in the land these two years, and there are yet five years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvest. And God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant on earth, and to keep alive for you many survivors. So it was not you who sent me here, but God. He has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house and ruler over all the land of Egypt. Hurry and go up to my father and say to him, ‘Thus says your son Joseph, God has made me lord of all Egypt. Come down to me; do not tarry. You shall dwell in the land of Goshen, and you shall be near me, you and your children and your children's children, and your flocks, your herds, and all that you have. There I will provide for you, for there are yet five years of famine to come, so that you and your household, and all that you have, do not come to poverty.’ And now your eyes see, and the eyes of my brother Benjamin see, that it is my mouth that speaks to you. You must tell my father of all my honor in Egypt, and of all that you have seen. Hurry and bring my father down here.'  
Then he fell upon his brother Benjamin's neck and wept, and Benjamin wept upon his neck. And he kissed all his brothers and wept upon them. After that his brothers talked with him." (Genesis 45:1-15) 
Twenty-two years of guilt for the brothers, and  twenty-two years of realizing the hand of God in his life for Joseph. This was not a sudden revelation, but a deep-seated trust that accepted adversity because this man had learned early that the power of trusting God was being able to see that He worthy of being trusted. 
The New Testament says that faith comes by hearing the Word of God. For me, the story of Joseph is a tremendous faith-builder! As my faith gets tested with not nearly the same intensity, I know that my God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Each test proves Him worthy of being trusted.

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