We were reflecting about the life of Joseph in the Old Testament. We will look through Genesis 42:26-38 and learn how to find the hidden treasures in our lives.
Hidden treasures in our lives given by God
This is a great opportunity for us that God has opened during Covid – the live streaming. There is an opportunity to read and understand God’s Word and apply them in our lives during any situation. In the previous lesson, we read the way Joseph dealt with his brothers. And as they were send back home, one among the nine was in the custody of Joseph i.e. Simeon. All the others were on their way back home and they didn’t realize that Joseph had returned their money back and had kept extra provisions, extra blessings and gifts in their sacks. Ignorant about the gifts in the sack Joseph’s brothers were travelling to their home.
Many times we don’t realize the blessings that God has given us. They are hidden within us. Only if we are ready to stand still and open our sack, we will know of those great treasures.
Joseph’s brothers had not yet opened their sacks. They were frustrated, disappointed and worried about the behavior of Joseph. They were tensed as to how they would face their father. In this anxiety, they didn’t realize the big blessings that were inside the sack. The person whom they were worried about turned out to be a blessing for them. Sometimes, we think God is the biggest block in our lives but God is our blessing. Other times, we think that someone else is a biggest problem in our life but they are a blessing for us too. Our enemies are our biggest blessing.
In the Bible, we read about the blind beggar Bartimaeus sitting by the road side, calling out to Jesus. Many people ask him to keep quiet, but after sometime these same people, were the ones who brought him closer to Jesus. The same people, who stopped him, became evangelizers. We can’t make anyone our enemies because no one is our enemy. Today’s enemy is tomorrow’s evangelizer.
They loaded their donkeys with their grain, and departed. Let’s observe and try to understand what happened during the journey of Jacob’s sons back home. When one of them opened the sack to give his donkey fodder at the lodging place, he saw his money at the top of the sack. One of the brothers, opened the sack and found the money. He had time to reflect and see what was in his bag. Whatever, was lost he got it back. Thank God, one of them reflected about himself and opened his own sack and found the blessing hidden inside.
We have retreats, which means ‘retreat your life once again’ What are we retreating? Open the bags we are carrying and see what’s inside of us. Then we will see many blessing hidden inside, even what we think we have lost, which actually is not lost, we will find inside the bag.
He said to his brothers, “My money has been put back; here it is in my sack! He was so shocked. At this they lost heart and turned trembling to one another, saying, “What is this that God has done to us?”
What are we going to do with this, they asked themselves? This is our main problem. God gives us blessings but we don’t know what to do with them? We wonder why we have received these blessings? Those who have not reconciled with God, will always wonder what to do with the blessings that God has given us? We will carry the blessings, but will not know how to use them. We have so many young adults in our communities who are blessed with numerous talents in their sack, but sometimes open and wonder what to do with them. We don’t know where and how to use these talents and how to go about it, because we have not yet reconciled with God. All those who have not repented and reconciled with God will be wondering about the gifts God has given without using them. We are not ready to sacrifice our life to come closer to God and be united with Him. Those who are ready to come out of their comfort zones will be ready to get into God’s zone.
What if this gift is found by a deceptive heart? Those with deceptive hearts will hide it. Knowing it is a special gift, the person will not give it or show it to anyone. There are so many of us who have a deceptive heart and we don’t use our gifts for the welfare of others but only use it for our own welfare. Even gifts like preaching, singing, various other talents; every gift God has given us, we use it for our own benefits. In fact, every gift of ours is for others.
What if a lying heart has received the gift? Then the person will make one’s own story about it. We won’t say it’s a gift given by God. Rather, we claim that it’s because of our hard work and struggle, that we received these gifts.
A proud heart thinks that we deserved these gifts. Then we will say, ‘Oh I deserve more than this. This is nothing!” Someone with a superficial heart will ignore these gifts. This is how we often behave with the many gifts that God has given us. As children of God seeing these gifts, we should glorify God every moment of our lives. Let us examine our conscience and see what kind of a heart we have? God has given us so many blessings. What are we doing with them? Are we hiding them, or making our own stories to claim these gifts for us? Do we think we deserve them, or are we lying to others? The more the blessings we receive, the more tensed and stressed we are. But we don’t realize that these big problems, will disappear within seconds and continue to carry stress in our hearts.
When they came to their father Jacob in the land of Canaan, they told him all that had happened to them, saying this time they were very truthful to their father, previously when they sold Joseph, they lied.
So, all of us who have a lying spirit will get an opportunity to lie again and again. Unless we repent, it will keep coming back to us. The same things are repeated here, this time they lost a brother and had to speak the truth and previously when they lost a brother they lied to their father. Even in the Old Testament, Abraham lied to the king saying, Sarah was his sister and not his wife. Later, we see that his son Isaac also does the same thing and claims that Rebecca, his wife, was his sister. Many of us commit the same sin repeatedly because we don’t repent of our sins. We don’t reject the pleasures of sin. Every sin has a pleasure, it’s not enough that we stop the sin but we should reject the pleasures of sin. If there is no pleasure in sin, no one will commit sin. It’s not the sin that attracts us but the pleasure attached to the sin. We must learn to reject the sin and its pleasure, to stop repeating our mistakes.
“The man, the lord of the land, spoke harshly to us, and charged us with spying on the land. They are speaking ill about their own brother Joseph. Which in fact is untrue.
Sometimes we hear such misconstrued interpretations about God, especially about Jesus on social media. Even from trustworthy sources, there are misrepresentations about Jesus, the church, our faith and the Bible. All of them are completely mistaken. They don’t understand and are unable to read the mind of God. They are just speaking from their emotions. Joseph’s brothers were harsh to him. Now they think their brother Joseph is harsh to them even when they don’t realize that it is their brother. This is the same reality that is happening around us. Many people explain and define God by distortions and untruth. Some do it to get an increased viewership on social media.
But we said to him, ‘We are honest men, we are not spies. In fact, they are dishonest. We are twelve brothers, sons of our fathers; one is no more and the youngest is now with our father in the land of Canaan. ‘One is no more’ is also untruthfulness.
Then the man, the lord of the land, said to us, ‘By this I shall know that you are honest men: leave one your brothers with me, take grain for the famine of your households, and go your way. Bring your youngest brother to me, and I shall know that you are not spies but honest men. Then I will release your brother to you, and you may trade in the land.” Joseph said this as he wanted to see his own brother, Benjamin. He and Benjamin are of the same mother and the other 10 are his stepbrothers.
As they were emptying their sacks, there in each one’s sack was a bag of money. When they and their father saw the bundles of money, they were dismayed. As they were returning only one of them opened their sack. They were only worried about the other’s bag, and so they never thought of opening their own sack.
Normally, this is our human tendency of looking at others. We become jealous of others but we forget to open our own sacks and see that the same blessings are hidden inside of our sacks. We look at others and say they are blessed with – a peaceful family, husband, wife, children are very good, they have a lot of money, good salary and good house. We fail to realize that better blessings are hidden inside of us. We just need to stop looking outside and start looking inside of us and our families. When we look around the good things that we have then we will understand that everyone is given equally. No one is shown any partiality.
Joseph’s brothers were frightened and dismayed, when they saw this huge blessing. In one sack there was happiness and in another fear. Those of us who are not in union with God may have happiness but always with fear; we may have blessings but it comes with tension; we may have prosperity but it comes with stress. There are rich people with no peace of mind. If we are united to God, then there is peace, joy and happiness along with every blessing. If we are not united to God still, we may have blessings but we will never enjoy it, and have sleepless nights.
And their father Jacob said to them, “I am the one you have bereaved of children: Joseph is no more, and Simeon is no more, and now you would take Benjamin. All this has happened to me!” Each time they go out they come back with one missing. He knew that they are very dangerous and something is wrong with them. Jacob is anxious as to why all these negative things are happening to him. He complains of losing two sons and now might lose a third one, that too in the midst of a famine. He does not realize that all these sufferings are going to turn into a great blessing. Soon, he’s going to get back his lost sons. He will see Benjamin, the most blessed one. He’s going to receive land in a new country. The barns are going to be full of food. His family will be favored guests of the Egyptian empire. Without realizing all this, Jacob says, “I’m a loser. I have no hope. I’m a failure. All calamities have come upon me.”
Many people come to Father Joseph for counselling saying, “Father, I am gone, I have lost everything – my money, my salary, my land, my husband, my job. I am faced with problem after problem.” If we are united in Jesus Christ, “all this has happened to me” will turn out to for our good. All we need is patience. Even though it’s painful to go through these moments, we will soon realize that it will not remain.
All those people whom we think we have lost; we will see them face to face. May be our grandparents, parents, husband or wife who have died and we think they have gone, once and for all and we won’t be meeting them anymore. Even when we are bereaved or cry over this, we should remember when we leave this world and go to heaven, we are going to meet them alive. That is why Jesus said, “even though they die, they live forever.” No one will be lost, unless we die in sin. We are going to meet our father, mother, brother, sister, husband, children and everyone; it’s only a matter of time and patience.
Jacob was crying over the loss of Joseph and Simeon, and refused to send Benjamin to Egypt. He knew he was in big crisis, but did not understand that it was a blessing for him. This is how our lives are. We don’t realize what big blessings we are in, even when we go through tough times in our lives. We look around and see only suffering but these are our blessings. We will only realize it later. A while back, Fr Joseph, was very sick and bedridden for almost a year. He wondered as to the purpose of his sickness and why God is allowing the suffering in his life. Now, when he looks back, he realizes that this was a great blessing in his life. Every crisis in the past will become a blessing. Today’s crisis, today’s pains, today’s blocks are tomorrow’s pulpits for us to preach the gospel.
Then Reuben said to his father, “You may kill my two sons if I do not bring him back to you. Put him in my hands; and I will bring him back to you.”
Reuben is trying to solve the situation and says, “I will save Benjamin. If you think I will not bring him back, then you kill my two sons.” He knows his father will not kill his grandsons, but still he was trying to emphasize that he will guard Benjamin diligently.
But he said, “my son shall not go down with you, for his brother is dead, and he alone is left. If harm should come to him on the journey that you are to make, you would bring down my gray hairs with sorrow to Sheol.” Remember out of his twelve sons, he says he’s alone. Which means he has not accepted the other brothers. Jacob still loves Rachel more than Leah. Jacob loves his children from Rachel more than his children from Leah. He still has this partiality and a deceptive mind. All through his life, he’s a man of deception and not much changed even in his old age. No wonder he had to see all these struggles along with his sons, because God wanted to change them all. It seemed that at this point he does not trust God anymore. Even though he is a patriarch, he doubts God. All these powerful people like Jacob, Abraham, Isaac had their weakness, as shown in the word of God. Even if we are such powerful and holy people, we are still weak. Sometimes we may also speak hopeless and helpless words, as if we don’t trust God anymore. Jacob had God experiences, visions, interventions and he would hear the word of God. But still as a human being, he was very weak. Even many people who are recipients of mighty miracles in their lives become hopeless in a few months. Many people attend retreats and say they believe in Jesus and within a month doubt God. This is how people are, because we are all in the body. As long as we are in the body, it will pull us into dust. Jacob, even in his old age was worried about his children. He was unable to trust in the Lord and unable to surrender his children into the hands of the Lord.
Will Jacob send Benjamin to Egypt or not? Let’s turn to the next Chapter to find out what happens to Jacob’s sons.