They stood there, staring at each other in hopeless desperation; their livelihoods were decimated, their children thinner by the day, and always the nagging worry of when the next harvest might come…if ever…
At long last a glimmer of hope – Jacob their father heard some wonderful news – there was grain to be had. The bad news – it was in Egypt: a long and dangerous journey. (Genesis 42:1-5) Desperate people abounded as this famine ground on – who would be only too willing to find a way to separate them from the silver they carried on their way to buy overpriced, over-demanded, under-supplied grain. Still more persistent would be those who wished to separate them from their precious grain on the return journey. Safety in numbers – better all go.
Then it hit them in the face. Benjamin the darling son of Rachel would not be accompanying them. He was to be protected at all costs. Resurgent anger. When they had got rid of the former favourite, young cocky Joseph, it seems they had not got rid of the problem. For the problem was not Joseph. Nor was it Benjamin. The problem was that their father loved these boys more than them. And it chafed.
We all have issues in life that get to us – chafe us. We think we have dealt with them, time has passed, and we get on with life. Then something causes an issue to resurface, maybe another injustice, and old hurts are there shouting at us again. For Jacob’s sons, maybe they had a right to feel hard done by. Kids should be loved equally, individually, for who they are and appreciated for all they bring into the family. But in any relationship, be it parent, partner, sibling, friend, pastor or whoever, people are not perfect. They get some of it wrong; and the closer they are, the harder it hurts.
The only one who will never let us down is God himself. He wants our issues to be brought out, dealt with and healed, and relationships restored. So when something really, really rankles, maybe God is at work. Offer him the sore spot, let him touch it and heal it. Oh, and ask him to give you wisdom and a tender heart, that you might inflict minimal damage on those who love you. Like I said, none of us are perfect.