What is that one thing that you really want right now? What dreams do you have for your life? What are the desires of your heart? Do you want to travel? Make a real difference in the world? Start your own business? Dreaming about the possibilities for our lives can be either intoxicating or frustrating. Intoxicating because it would be so nice if everything went our way. Frustrating because we know life doesn’t turn out like that, even if our dreams are actually good and pure. But why not?
After all, we have so many success stories in the Bible to refer to. For instance, Joseph. We’ve seen Joseph rise from the shame of slavery and jail to become the second most powerful man in all of Egypt. We’ve seen Joseph reunite with his beloved father and brothers. And today, in Genesis 47, we see literally everything else fall into Joseph’s lap and the laps of those around him.
First, Joseph’s family is given permission by Pharaoh to settle in Goshen. Joseph’s father and brothers get to meet Pharaoh himself and he gladly extends the invitation. Jacob even blesses Pharaoh, which I can only imagine was extremely shocking to anyone who heard it. A barbarian Hebrew blessing the son of the gods, the all-powerful Pharaoh?? Totally unprecedented. But then again, this is a success story.
It’s not just Joseph’s family that is blessed – as the famine continues to rage throughout Egypt and Canaan (verse 13), people get desperate. Knowing that Egypt is the only place with any food, they come from all over, offering their money, livestock, land, and even themselves in exchange for food to stay alive. Pharaoh and Joseph oblige, and Egypt rapidly amasses unthinkable wealth and power, more probably than any nation before it. More definitely than our nation now! Even after the famine ends, the people continue to give a fifth of their produce to Pharaoh as part of their agreement.
The years pass, and at one hundred and forty-seven years old (oh my word), Jacob is nearing his last days. He makes Joseph promise to bury him in Canaan, because as nice as Pharaoh has been to Joseph’s family, Jacob knows that his people belong in a different land…
The Treasures Within:
Tit For Tat
Let’s take honest stock of what God has done for Joseph. Joseph was sold by his brothers, separated from the family he loved. Joseph was made a slave and denied freedom and property. Joseph was thrown in jail for something he didn’t do, treated as the lowest of the low. Yet now, Joseph has been reunited with the family he lost. He has absolute freedom now, and power too! He has more wealth than anyone in the entire world. Joseph is now the highest of the high. God literally restored everything in Joseph’s life, and then some! That’s insane.
But it shows the power and love of our God. In fact, this entire story stands as a reminder to us of the power and love of our God. When things go wrong in our life, we will forget this. We will think that God has it out for us, or that we can’t trust Him, or even worse, that He isn’t real and we’re really all on our own. But if the God we serve today is anything like the God Joseph served, we can be absolutely, positively sure that He will take care of us when we surrender ourselves to Him. He can be trusted. It may take time, but God always restores.
Even If He Doesn’t
But then again…what about when He doesn’t? After all, everyone’s story is not Joseph’s. Everyone does not enjoy immense wealth and power. Everyone does not get back their lost loved ones. I mean, look at Hosea. Look at Isaiah. Look at Ellen G. White. Where are their riches and prosperity? How can we trust God with our dreams, or even our very lives, when we don’t know if He will deliver?
Here is where faith comes in. Here is where we must decide whether or not we believe God, whether or not we believe in His character. Because if we do, then is not the God who is powerful and loving enough to pour out blessings also wise enough to decide when those blessings should come and when they shouldn’t? The answer is yes. If God is love and if He is wisdom and if He is power, then He can be trusted with the decision to give or to take away. This is uncomfortable. Sometimes I find myself wanting something so badly and believing so strongly that it is a good thing, that I convince myself that it must be God’s will for me to have it. But I have been wrong so many times. We all have. God, on the other hand, is never wrong. If He says yes, then that is what is best. If He says no, then that is what is best. Do we trust Him enough to accept His answer?
God’s Message To Us:
“I will pour out blessings that you will not be able to receive.” Here’s the thing. I believe that when we give our lives to God, when we “test him in this” as Malachi 3:10 says, then He will bless us. Hands down. Guaranteed. He may not bless us with lots of money or the job we wanted or the trip we’ve been planning for or the person we assumed we’d spend forever with. He may not bless us with what we want. But He will bless us. He will bless us with love and with joy. He will bless us with peace that passes all understanding. He will bless us with intimacy and companionship that will brighten our days and hold us up through even the darkest times. He will bless us with songs in the night and glimpses of Him in the world around us. He will fill us, satisfy us, and overwhelm us with who He is. He is the ultimate blessing. He is worth more than all the jobs, or experiences, or cars, or sex, or food, or money in the entire world. Hands down. Guaranteed. Test Him in this. You’ll see.
What do you think? What did God teach you from this chapter of the Bible? What did He talk to you about as you read?