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  • Writer's picturePastor Hans Fiene

Matins Devotion: March 20, 2023

Grief has a nasty habit of making people crazy, irrational and despondent. We see that with Jacob in our Old Testament reading for today.

Jacob is still very much mourning the death of Rachel, his beloved wife, and the presumed death of Joseph, his firstborn son with Rachel. He’s so grief stricken that he can’t really understand the circumstances in front of him. He doesn’t have a choice. If he wants his family to survive the famine and if he wants Simeon back, he has to let his sons take Benjamin, his last remaining son of Rachel, down to Egypt. There’s no other option for their survival and Simeon’s freedom. But Jacob instead chooses to pretend like none of this is happening. He tells himself that Simeon is already as good as dead. He’d rather stay put and slowly sink into certain death with Benjamin than choose life and take a hope. It’s crazy, irrational, and despondent. It’s just what people do when they’re haunted by grief.

When our hearts are torn to shreds, we can’t make any sense of the world and we don’t know how to take away the pain. So we lash out at the people who love us and want to help us. We run away from the words of the Scriptures that are meant to comfort us. We give ourselves over to the sins that only make our grief worse. We try to escape the fire of our grief by pouring gasoline on it.

So how do we escape? There’s only one way. We run into the arms of Christ, which is essentially what Jacob does a few chapters later in Genesis when he runs into the arms of Joseph and declares that he can now die in peace because he has seen the face of the son who once was dead but now is living. In all of this, Jacob found the promise of the resurrection, the promise of Christ’s victory over sin and death that was given to him when he wrestled with the preincarnate Christ.

So cling to that promise. When your griefs and sorrows make you crazy and irrational, run into the nail pierced yet living hands of Jesus and you’ll find your mind and your heart restored. Because in Christ, there is no corpse that cannot be raised, vivified, and glorified. In Christ, there is no pain that cannot be ended and no tear that cannot be dried. In Christ, there is no grief that cannot be turned to joy.

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