Paraphrased from a sermon by Dr. R.C. Sproul
I know I will do a terrible job of it, but I will attempt to summarize a small part of a larger lecture given by R.C. Sproul. It is about faith when things are looking bad.
The sermon is about a time in Jacob’s life when he was hopelessly grieved and wish he had never been born. You will need a few reminders to understand.
Jacob had two wives, Leah and Rachel. He loved Rachel with all his heart, working 14 years for her father just for the right to marry her. He was tricked into marrying Leah. Leah does however give him 9 sons. Rachel was childless for years before she gave birth to Joseph, who was Jacob’s favorite and most loved son.. Some years later she gave birth to Benjamin, but died during the childbirth. Because of this, Jacob also has a very special love for Benjamin. Joseph at age 17 had been sold as a slave but Jacob was told he was dead.
Fast-forward an unknown number of years. Jacob along with all his children and grand-children are nomads in Canaan when a drought hits the whole region. He is running out of food so he sends all of his sons but Benjamin to Egypt to buy food. While they are there, the leader of Egypt (Joseph) accuses them of being spies and puts Jacob’s son Simeon in prison. He tells them the only way to prove they aren’t spies is to return and bring Benjamin with them. Jacob at first refuses to allow Benjamin to go back, but as time goes on, they are running out of food again. Jacob is speaking to Rueban (his oldest) and tells him he is broken hearted onto death. Here is how Jacob sees things.
1. His most loved son is dead.
- All his children and grand-children are staving to death.
- His son Simeon is in an Egyptian prison, which normally is simply a dungeon people are put in till they starve to death.
- To get any food, he has to send Benjamin, who is the only remaining child of the wife he loved desperately, back to the cruel Egyptian ruler who put his other son Simeon in the dungeon of death.
You must admit, in Jacob’s eyes things were awful. But here is the reality:
1. His most loved son was not only alive, but was the second in command of the only nation in the world that had any food.
- All the grain in Egypt was waiting to feed him and his children and his grand-children. All the world would have starved to death before he would have.
- His son Simeon was under house arrest, being better taken care of the most of the people in Egypt. He was being watched by a brother who would have died himself before he left a hair on Simeon’s head be harmed.
- Instead of losing his son Benjamin to this cruel Egyptian ruler, he was about to get back the son he thought he had lost to death.
When Jacob thought his life was practically over and as terrible as it could get, the reality was that never at any time in his life was Jacob more blessed and in a better circumstance. We need to learn these two things from Jacob’s story.
1. God is in control and he promises to “make all things work together for good”. He runs the world from an easy-chair with his feet up. An atheist can have faith when things look good. We are called to trust God when things look bad.
- How we see things, is often not reality. The things we see as terrible are usually either not true, or not terrible. We simply don’t know what is really happening. Only God knows that. See point number 1.