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Sometimes We See Things Work Out

Sometimes we don't.

Genesis 47:13–19 (ESV)

Now there was no food in all the land, for the famine was very severe, so that the land of Egypt and the land of Canaan languished by reason of the famine. And Joseph gathered up all the money that was found in the land of Egypt and in the land of Canaan, in exchange for the grain that they bought. And Joseph brought the money into Pharaoh's house. And when the money was all spent in the land of Egypt and in the land of Canaan, all the Egyptians came to Joseph and said, “Give us food. Why should we die before your eyes? For our money is gone.” And Joseph answered, “Give your livestock, and I will give you food in exchange for your livestock, if your money is gone.” So they brought their livestock to Joseph, and Joseph gave them food in exchange for the horses, the flocks, the herds, and the donkeys. He supplied them with food in exchange for all their livestock that year. And when that year was ended, they came to him the following year and said to him, “We will not hide from my lord that our money is all spent. The herds of livestock are my lord's. There is nothing left in the sight of my lord but our bodies and our land. Why should we die before your eyes, both we and our land? Buy us and our land for food, and we with our land will be servants to Pharaoh. And give us seed that we may live and not die, and that the land may not be desolate.”

Under Joseph’s direction, Pharaoh has stored up enough food to last the full 7 years. That wise investment saves the entire nation of Egypt (as well as the nascent nation of Israel). In the end, the people are saved, but the Egyptians are trading everything they own for the food to stay alive. Pharaoh will possess everything.

Have Pharaoh’s dream and Joseph’s interpretation of that dream saved two nations? Of course not; God saved two nations. The same God who created the famine, created the deliverance.

This would seem pointless and contradictory had we not been given a glimpse of God’s higher purposes. God is teaching Joseph’s brothers a great and painful lesson. He’s also moving the nation of Israel to Egypt. Soon, that will look like a bad idea – as Israel will be enslaved in Egypt.

More higher purposes to come.

Recognizing God’s higher purposes is the key to dealing with trials. Bad things happen. Sometimes we get to see why; sometimes we don’t.

It’s important to pay attention to those precious times when we do get to see something that looked bad at first, turn out for the best in the end. These are essential lessons in the limitations of our perspective. When we see things work out, it’s useful to think back and recall the wrongheaded thoughts we had before we knew what where things were headed.

We need to learn to laugh at our lack of understanding, patience and trust. When truly learned, this lesson can see you through some pretty tough times.

When everything seems wrong, it’s comforting to remember that there’s a lot we don’t know.

The weekly study guides, which include discussion questions, are available for download here:

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.

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