Yesterday, I had to go to the dentist for my semi-annual cleaning. Not my favorite thing to do but I put on my big girl panties and do it anyway. In fact, it used to be a source of serious dread in my life. I would get myself all worked up for days ahead of an appointment and wouldn’t sleep the night before hardly at all. I know, I know. Irrational. I’m better now – but not much. I still just dread going. As I was reading today’s story, I was completely aware of the dread that Joseph’s brothers feel at the thought of returning to Egypt and facing “the man” who holds their food source in his hands. You can feel that dread coming off of the pages as they try and explain to Jacob once again why they cannot go back without Benjamin. As a result of this conundrum they and their families are going to starve to death. They are completely caught in this trap that Joseph has so cunningly set for them. I marvel at how beautifully he puts this together.
Dread is a familiar feeling. It means “to feel extremely frightened or worried about something that may happen in the future; to be reluctant or frightened to do something because it is unpleasant, upsetting, or annoying.” The brothers just knew that if they returned to Egypt it wasn’t going to turn out well. They plead with Jacob to allow Benjamin to go with them. If he goes they at least have a chance to bring home some food. Without him they know “the man” will keep his word and send them home hungry. While he hates it, Jacob recognizes the situation as well and finally relents and allows Benjamin to go along. (I find it interesting that Benjamin is consistently referred to as “the boy” throughout the story and yet he is probably well into his 20s at this point.) They know what it means to dread a situation. And yet what they have feared does not happen! Simeon is returned to them and they receive gracious amounts of food to take home. Benjamin is not forced to stay and by the end of the chapter, it looks like everything is going to turn out well for Jacob’s family. Quite often we place ourselves into a state of dread when that is just not necessary. Almost all of what we fear will happen never actually does happen.
Where is God in this story? I believe he is watching (and dare I say enjoying) as the story unfolds exactly as He had planned. His people are being spared from starvation and the building of a mighty nation continues. While we might think Joseph cruel as he plays out this little drama bear in mind the brothers also needed to come to grips with their own guilt in selling Joseph into slavery and lying to Jacob about his death. Guilt can never be shoved under the rug or sweep aside. Either we deal with it before the cross of Jesus Christ, allowing Him to carry it all or we let it ruin our lives one day at a time. The brothers were right to feel dread in this situation for they all had un-repented sin they were dragging around. Not only is God feeding them and their families He is allowing them opportunity to deal with that guilt as well.
I’ve known people who actually dread coming to church because of their guilt. In reality, coming to God is the only place where you can effectively bring your guilt and have it be forgiven. Because of Jesus there is no place for guilt in our lives. We need not carry that burden any further than the foot of the cross. If you’re feeling dread over anything
(except maybe the dentist ) talk to God about it. Let Him take that from you for you don’t need it anymore.