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  • Writer's picturePastor Hans Fiene

Matins Devotion: March 11, 2024

Very often in life, having your hands tied is the best situation you can find yourself in. Having no choice makes it easier to do the only thing you can do, which is often the right thing to do. And so, when it comes to our reading from Genesis 42 today, this should be an easy decision for Jacob. Simeon is locked in prison back in Egypt. And this strange, powerful Egyptian man, the one who determines whether they get food for survival, has told them they can only get him back if they return to Egypt with their youngest brother. So Jacob only has one move he can make. He has no leverage, no power. This offer is non-negotiable. He has to send Benjamin down to Egypt.

But Jacob won’t listen. He won’t be moved. All he can think about is his grief. Jacob is still consumed with grief over the death of his beloved wife Rachel, just as he’s consumed with grief over the firstborn son of their union, Joseph, the beloved son he believes is dead. And so Jacob cannot bear the thought of losing Benjamin, even though he’ll lose Simeon forever if he doesn’t take action. Likewise, they’ll probably all die of starvation eventually if they don’t go back down to Egypt. And yet, Jacob can’t see through his grief. He can’t think beyond the terror of the moment. Grief has made him irrationally immoble. 

And grief does the same thing to us throughout our lives. In these moments where we only have one move we can make, in these moments where we only have one option to move forward, grief convinces us that we have to stay where we are, that we can’t move or else we’ll lose everything. Which is, of course, how we end up losing everything. When our only option is to forgive, we refuse. We stand firm in our bitterness and we end up losing even more relationships. When our only option is to quit wallowing in self-pity, we refuse to move, and we end up buried underneath even more rubble from the lives that we can’t stop tearing apart. When our only choice is to recognize that we can’t solve our problems and to trust in God to give us the grain we need, we refuse to budge and make ourselves slaves to starvation, slaves to the weakness and folly and failure of our own hands.

But there is a way out of the grief, a way that Jacob will see in our reading for tomorrow. The way out is to trust in Christ, the one who heals all grief, with His promise of pardon and peace in His wounds, with His promise of the resurrection. Turn to Him and you’ll see that you never need to be paralyzed with grief because He has conquered your every grief when He destroyed your every sin. Turn to Christ and, in your moments of sorrow and weakness, you’ll find the strength to make the only move you can, just as you’ll find the strength to make the righteous moves that you should.

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