Lies and Loss and Living Hope

“Then they got Joseph’s robe, slaughtered a goat and dipped the robe in the blood. They took the ornate robe back to their father and said, ‘We found this. Examine it to see whether it is your son’s robe.’ He recognized it and said, ‘It is my son’s robe! Some ferocious animal has devoured him. Joseph has surely been torn to pieces.’ Then Jacob tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and mourned for his son many days. All his sons and daughters came to comfort him, but he refused to be comforted. ‘No,’ he said, ‘I will continue to mourn until I join my son in the grave.’ So his father wept for him. Meanwhile, the Midianites sold Joseph in Egypt to Potiphar, one of Pharaoh’s officials, the captain of the guard.”—Genesis 37:31–36 (NIV)

I can’t imagine what it must have been like for Jacob in this moment. In The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, King Theoden says through tears, “No parent should ever have to bury their own child.” But poor Jacob didn’t even have a body to bury! All he had was a blood-stained coat.

Jacob was completely inconsolable. Of course, we know Joseph wasn’t dead and everything that was happening was ordained by God in order to save many, but Jacob didn’t know that. And even though all his kids came to comfort him, he remained inconsolable and consumed by grief.

Mourning the loss of a loved one is normal and expected. Even Jesus mourned and grieved the death of Lazarus with Mary and Martha, even though He knew He would resurrect him. Mourning is a process that may take longer for some than others. But for believers, we share a hope beyond this life. We can cling to that hope as Jacob did and look forward to the day when we’re reunited in His kingdom.

Now, it really fires me up knowing the very men who stole Joseph away from his father, who conspired against their younger brother, sold him into slavery, and then lied by saying he was dead, these dudes had the audacity to try to comfort their father. Just the mere thought of what they’d done should have consumed them with grief and guilt for their shameful actions. But no, they were too busy counting the meager coins they collected in exchange for Joseph.

I pray we never come to a place where we have no guilt or conviction over our sins, both big and small. That’s a dangerous place to be—to be so deep into a lifestyle of sin that we’re numb to the convicting voice of the Holy Spirit. This is why it’s also very important we surround ourselves with people who can speak into our lives, who can speak the truth in love and have hard conversations with us, bear our burdens with us, and help steer us away from sin.

Now, before we wrap up today, I want to point out how the brothers slaughtered an innocent animal in order to make their deception believable. They shed blood to try and cover their sin. Well, Jesus Christ, the innocent Lamb of God shed His very own blood in order to remove our sin, to complete our restoration, and to turn our grief into joy! Isn’t it amazing how we can see the work of Christ Jesus woven into every story?

DIG: Why was Reuben’s plan wrong?

DISCOVER: What is wrong with “the lesser of two evils” approach?

DO: Meditate on this whole story today. Consider the way God allowed these things to come together, reflect on how this story points us to the gospel, and consider where your heart is today.