He was an old man, living alone in the midst of a famine.
His beloved wife, who had borne him two cherished sons, had been gone for many years. One had followed his mother to the grave in a terrible accident and the other–his youngest Benjamin, the one he clung to with an almost desperate grip—was now far from home with the rest of his brothers. He had no hope that he would ever see any of them alive again.
Day after day, the silence in his home must have been deafening. Every morning, he awoke and looked out the window to see the same scene…bleak, dry, colorless, and hopeless as the famine continued its’ seemingly never-ending stranglehold on the land.
The famine eventually reached his heart.
Is this how it would all end?
He would die alone? Forsaken by his God? His eyes never to rest again on the faces of his surviving sons? How had it come to this???
But then…one morning he saw something different on the horizon.
In the midst of the famine…and in God’s perfect timing…HOPE was arriving on the scene.
The old man could barely believe his eyes. His sons! His sons were coming home!
And what was this? They were riding on wagons and the wagons were filled to overflowing with all kinds of wonderful things!
It was too good to be true!
Except it wasn’t.
A very good God was breathing new life into the heart and soul of an old man. And since He is a God who loves lavishly, the best was yet to come.
His son…the one who he thought had been killed…was actually alive and well! He was waiting in another land to be reunited with his father at long last!
In a glorious instant, this man’s life changed. He realized anew how faithful His God is and would always be. His ways are not our ways and this journey through earth is not without tears and pain and searing loss.
Yet…God redeems…and restores…and replenishes…and lavishly loves. Joy reigns, faith is rewarded…and love wins. Always.
The above story is true. The man’s name is Jacob and his story can be found in Genesis 25-49.
His was an extremely dysfunctional family, full of loss, betrayal, grief, anger, jealousy, confusion, bitterness. His sons were all jealous of Jacob’s favored son Joseph, so one day they threw him into a well, sold him into slavery, and told Jacob that he had been killed by a wild animal. Joseph’s life was filled with heartache after heartache…but God used it all and Joseph was promoted to second-in-command of Egypt.
It was because he was in this position of power that he could save his father and all of his brothers from the famine in their homeland. Once he was reunited with his brothers—who had come to Egypt seeking food—he obtained Pharaoh’s permission to load up several wagons, filled with the best Egypt had to offer and send them back to his father, complete with an invitation to come to Egypt in order to escape the famine and certain death.
Here is how Scripture describes the scene:
Joseph spoke to his brothers: “I am Joseph. Is my father really still alive?” But his brothers couldn’t say a word; they were speechless—they couldn’t believe what they were seeing and hearing.
“Come closer to me,” Joseph said to his brothers…”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 for two years now; the famine will continue for five more years…God sent me on ahead of you to pave the way…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.”
“Hurry back to my father. Tell him, ‘Your son Joseph says, ‘I’m master of all Egypt. Come as fast as you can and join me here. I’ll give you a place to live…where you’ll be close to me—you, your children, your grandchildren, your flocks, your herds, and anything else you can think of. I’ll take care of you there completely. There are still five more years of famine ahead; I’ll make sure all your needs are taken care of, you and everyone connected with you. You won’t want for a thing.”
…Pharaoh said to Joseph, ‘This is the plan. Load up your pack animals, go back to Canaan, get your father and your families and bring them back here. I’ll settle you in the best land in Egypt—you’ll live off the fat of the land…take the wagons from Egypt to carry your (families) and load up your father and come back. Don’t worry about having to leave things behind; the best in all of Egypt will be yours.”
And they did just that…Joseph gave them the wagons that Pharaoh had promised and food for the trip. He outfitted all the brothers in brand new clothes but gave Benjamin three hundred pieces of silver and several suits of clothes. He sent his father these gifts: ten donkeys loaded with Egypt’s best products, and another ten donkeys loaded with grain and bread, provisions for his father’s journey back.
…They left Egypt and went back to their father in Canaan. When they told him, ‘Joseph is still alive—and he’s the ruler over the whole land of Egypt!” he went numb; he couldn’t believe his ears. But the more they talked, telling him everything that Joseph had told them and when he saw the wagons that Joseph had sent to carry him back, the blood started to flow again—their father Jacob’s spirit revived. —Genesis 45, (The Message).
Is there a famine of some kind in your life right now? Does it look hopeless? Do you fear it will always be this way and nothing will ever change? Do you see no way out?
That is certainly how Jacob must have felt. Yet, as our pastor reminded us when he preached on this passage last Sunday, “God wants us to be at our wit’s end so we will relinquish it ALL and allow Him to be God. Sometimes we have to get to the bottom of the pit so we will look up!”
He closed his sermon by reminding us to “Watch for the wagons! Watch for all the benefits God is sending to us through Christ. Watch for God’s grace, love, faithfulness, and mercy in the midst of it all! He is going to do something so special that you could never imagine!”
Your God would ask you: “Is My hand shortened, that it cannot redeem? Or have I no power to deliver?”–Isaiah 50:2
Nothing is impossible with your God!
He will always send the wagons in one way or another…in His perfect timing. And He always does “exceedingly abundantly above ALL that we could ask or think!” (Ephesians 3:20)
As we left church on Sunday morning, I smiled at my husband in the summer sunshine.
“The wagons are coming!” I reminded him. His smile matched mine, full of hope.
I was determined to believe this as fact, despite the evidence to the contrary. I would not lean on my own understanding of things. I would trust my good God, knowing that He was at work in our situation in ways I could not see. In the meantime, I would live each day to the fullest, on a never-ending hunt for joy in the midst.
And three days later, the wagons appeared on the horizon.
Surely this is our God; we trusted in Him and He saved us. This is the Lord, we trusted in Him; let us rejoice and be glad in our salvation. —Isaiah 25:9