Last weekend after a lazy afternoon at the art festival, I headed over to the west side to have dinner, and a friendly game of chess with my friends Katie and Byron at their lovely townhouse. I didn’t know that the chess part of the deal until after dinner (I have never played, and am notoriously bad at remembering rules for games like that,) but played along and tag-teamed it with Katie against Byron.
It was so fun, and interesting, playing with them! Katie was getting so worked up, and stressing out about every single move. I, of course, being 90% uncompetitive, just sat happily; making suggestions and watching them agonize over their next moves. It was funny seeing my friends in this way- usually I would think Byron is the more competitive one, but I saw that this was not the case at all. Byron would sit back and smile, waiting for her to move, and she would fake- curse under her breath (awww- flurg! Etc. :)) and get all worked up over the death of a pawn to an opposing piece. When she left the room, he made a comment to me about how that was her downfall in chess- she doesn’t see the big picture and she gets too worked up over all the insignificant losses in the game. Always playing in reaction to his moves, and not keeping the big picture in mind.
I didn’t really think much about it, until church the next day- when the sermon was about encountering problems in life. It was crazy because I was hearing that same thing- why are we getting so caught up on the little things, and assuming the worst? Our pastor talked about Genesis 42- when Joseph’s dad Jacob was lamenting because Joseph was asking for Jacob to send Benjamin to Egypt. From his vantage point, everything had gone wrong, and it was about to get worse. To give some background to the story, Joseph’s brothers had sold him into slavery many years back. They told Jacob he was dead, and of course it was heartbreaking for Jacob. When Joseph got to Egypt (where he was taken,) he had a rough life including accusations of rape and time in prison. After some years in jail, Joseph was able to rightly interpret some dreams of the Pharoah, and was given a place of high honor. The dreams foretold of a nationwide drought and famine, that it became Joseph’s job to prepare the country for. Fast-forward, and Joseph’s family back in Canaan desperately needed food and supplies, and some of Joseph’s brothers went to Egypt to get them. Joseph commanded that they go home and bring the brother they had left in order to get supplies, and that’s where the story picks up.
In Genesis 42: 36, it says “Their father said to them, "You're taking everything I've got! Joseph's gone, Simeon's gone, and now you want to take Benjamin. If you have your way, I'll be left with nothing."
The thing is- Jacob was wrong. He wouldn’t be left with nothing. Joseph was alive and well, which Jacob would soon find out. Benjamin would go to Egypt, come back safely. And the family would be spared from the famine that plagued their country.
God had a bigger, better plan than Jacob could see. He was working in all of it, the whole situation, to bring glory to his name, and safety to his people.
When all the brothers were finally in Egypt with Joseph, he finally let them know the secret that he’d been keeping.
In verses 4-8 of chapter 43, it says… "Come closer to me," Joseph said to his brothers. They came closer. "I am Joseph your brother whom you sold into Egypt. But don't feel badly; don't blame yourselves for selling me. God was behind it. God sent me here ahead of you to save lives. There has been a famine in the land now for two years; the famine will continue for five more years—neither plowing nor harvesting. God sent me on ahead to pave the way and make sure there was a remnant in the land, to save your lives in an amazing act of deliverance. So you see, it wasn't you who sent me here but God. He set me in place as a father to Pharaoh, put me in charge of his personal affairs, and made me ruler of all Egypt. "
And what happened to Jacob? Well, after much prodding from God, he and the rest of the family moved to Egypt as well. And the story ends pretty well…
Genesis 47:11-12 “Joseph settled his father and brothers in Egypt, made them proud owners of choice land—it was the region of Rameses (that is, Goshen)—just as Pharaoh had ordered. Joseph took good care of them—his father and brothers and all his father's family, right down to the smallest baby. He made sure they had plenty of everything.”