Some years ago, at a house-group, we were asked to describe a life trauma or ordeal we’d experienced, and discuss how we’d handled it. One gentleman in the group could not think of a single trauma. Life had gone smoothly for him and his wife, their children had caused no problems; he’d always had a good career, and no money issues. I thought it was amazing, as our lives had been rather turbulent! Not many years later, however, illness struck that lovely couple in the cruellest of ways, and their peaceful lives were shattered for ever. In truth, there are very few people in this life who live in total tranquillity. Most of us have lots of issues to contend with that the rest of the world are totally unaware of.
In Genesis 50:22-26, Joseph’s grandchildren and great-grandchildren came along, and each one was joyfully placed on his knee at birth. There is a sense in these verses that Joseph was living life to the full. Even as he approached death, he wanted to be a part of what God was going to fulfil concerning this special family of his. He was trusting God’s promise concerning them, and wanted to be included, even if it was only his bones! He seemed to be aware that once he departed, they would be starting to face difficulties, “but God will surely come to your aid”. He still wanted in. He didn’t want to be left behind in Egypt when God was moving them on.
So Joseph died at 110, with such a positive approach to both life and death. I couldn’t help but compare his life with Jacob. Both Jacob and Joseph had had big issues to deal with. They had both struggled with sibling relationships, they had both been estranged from home and family, both had to make the best of life in a foreign land. Both had to handle a difficult family reunion.
At age 130, Jacob was complaining that, compared to his forebears, his years had been ‘few and difficult’ (Genesis 47:9). I wonder if he recognized that a lot of his ‘difficulties’ were because he had tried to play god, tried to twist life and cheat his way into the blessings? Joseph, on the other hand, had let God be God; he had accepted the problems that life and his brothers had thrown at him, and recognized that ‘God intended it for good’.
If we are honest, some of the messes we experience are largely our own making; but sometimes others are at fault. Joseph coped with all the problems he had to face, because he had found a truth that St Paul wrote about centuries later.
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose… Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?…No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
(From Romans 8)
Throughout the book of Genesis, we have seen God at work with his very imperfect, fallible people. People just like you and me. People with ups and downs in life. People who have struggled to keep the faith and stay good. But people who found that God is faithful in spite of their own shortcomings.
Isn’t it good to know that nothing, absolutely nothing, can separate us from the love of our Father God! Thank you Father.