Friday, January 17, 2014
Gen. 42:28 He said to his brothers, “My money has been put back; here it is in my sack!” At this they lost heart and turned trembling to one another, saying, “What is this that God has done to us?”
Joseph’s brothers had traveled down to Egypt during the time of famine. Little did they know that they had encountered the brother whom they had sold so long ago and that he was now a ruler in this foreign land. They brought their silver with them to buy food, which they did, however, on their way home they opened the sacks of food only to discover that their money was in the sacks as well.
Now, they feared the man who was in charge of famine relief. They “lost heart and turned trembling” and immediately saw this as a bad thing — and they blamed God!
I'm afraid that God gets credit for a lot of stuff these days! Probably much more than he would care to have assigned to him. How often have I heard good people say after a bad or sad incident, “well, the Lord’s will was done.” Somehow I just envision the Father up in heaven shaking his head and thinking, “Really, they think I wanted that to happen?” Then we add some kind of language about the sovereignty of God and somehow that makes it all sound good.
Actually, I think it’s a bit of a crutch to blame God for some of our own behaviors. Now, in the case of Israel’s sons, one might say that God was trying to do something good and they interpreted it as bad. Joseph was moved by the presence of his brothers and loved them so much that he wanted to give them back their money. He may have also wanted them to feel a bit obligated to him so that they would return with their father and brother. All of this was done in the desire to provide the very best for the family that he loved. It was the brothers who interpreted it as a dangerous act of God.
Is God sometimes trying to do something good for you, and you interpret it as bad or some kind of punishment? Yes — we “blame” God for the situation. Why didn’t he give us what we wanted? Maybe because God has something better in store for you that you can’t even imagine. These boys could never have imagined that this wealthy and powerful ruler of the land was their brother. They never could have imagined that the boy that they tried to kill would become their savior. And neither do we realize that at times it is in the unusual circumstances of life that we will find God right in the midst - if only we would stop blaming him.
We are good at blaming. It comes to us naturally because we inherited it from Adam and Eve. Eve blamed the serpent and Adam blamed Eve and suddenly we had sin in the world. Why not blame God!
We do blame God, for it seems to be a natural response. But maybe we ought to step back from time to time and think about the fact that God gave us the opportunity to make choices. He doesn’t force us to do things. Even God’s people sometimes simply do what they want to do — and do not listen to the voice of God. Sometimes people simply make some bad choices in life. Sometimes people are rebellious and disobedient. And it’s time for us to stop giving God the “credit” for those kinds of behaviors. We live in a fallen world and while God would love for his people to do what he desires, sometimes we simply don’t and there are and will be consequences. Don’t write it off as “it must be God’s will!”
When my father-in-law was on his deathbed he had a conversation with my niece who was struggling with his illness. She said, “why would God do this?” I am so grateful for his response. He told her that God did not do this but that he (my father-in-law) had not always made healthy choices nor cared for himself physically as he should. He had been overweight and suffered with diabetes for years and now there were consequences. He did not want her to blame God for the condition in which he found himself.
Sometimes we get ourselves into nasty predicaments. Stop blaming God and take action to get your life and your relationship back on the right track with God. Yes, there will be difficulties in life. Yes, even good people will let you down. But don’t blame God. Instead, allow God to be with you in those times — to love you and to sustain you.
Lord, thanks for walking this journey of life with me. Amen.