This devotional is part of a series through the story of Joseph. You can read the whole series here.
Trusting God can be challenging, especially when you’re not always pleased about the way your life is unfolding.
Jacob lived in Egypt seventeen years after being reunited with his son whom he thought was dead. He died at the age of one hundred forty-seven. God had provided for Jacob and his entire family through the difficulty that was unleashed upon Joseph’s life.
You have to marvel how Joseph was able to pursue a path of reconciliation instead of revenge. Clearly God’s Spirit was at work in his heart and life. During this period the family flourished in the foreign land in which they would live for hundreds of years just as God had promised. Genesis 48 accents the last days of Jacob’s life with his family and the importance of properly recognizing Joseph’s two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim.
As you may recall the first born was named Manasseh because “God has made me forget all my troubles'' (Genesis 41:52) and the second born was given the name Ephraim because “God has made me fruitful in the land of my suffering” (Genesis 41:52). Their mother was Asenath, daughter of Potiphera, priest of On. So Joseph is concerned that before his father passes on to heaven, that the boys–now about twenty years old– be recognized as part of the covenant. That is, they are properly adopted into the family.
As one commentary explains, “This was a declaration of intent to adopt the two grandsons, thus elevating them both to the status of tribal heads and thereby giving Joseph, according to his dreams (37:5ff) the position of firstborn with a double representation among the tribes of Israel.” All looks good, until Jacob grants the blessing.
Contrary to Joseph’s expectations and desire, Jacob placed his right hand on the head of the younger grandson. Though Joseph contested the blessing of his father, Jacob would not repent. Joseph could only observe and accept. What do we learn from this?
It has been noted that we tend to look at life from the perspective of that which we deserve and have earned. Here, the Bible reminds us that God gives his gifts, as Calvin said, “freely, as it seems good unto him.” We may find that life does not unfold as we think it ought to or according to our ‘rules.’ Yet, our Lord is not confined to our standards. This occasion in Genesis 48 is another opportunity for Joseph to trust in his sovereign Lord and accept the life his God has given him. Paul in Romans 9 reminds us of the same.
How well do we submit to that which is contrary to our order of thought and life, yet clearly given to us by God? Do we have hearts that complain and protest? Or do we have hearts that overflow with thanksgiving? Do we acknowledge our Lord’s presence and accept his gracious will? Do we seek our Lord honestly, sharing the state of our hearts and at the same time asking to accept his sovereign will? When life denies us our desires may our Lord give us his grace and eyes of faith to see it.
Chuck Garriott is the founder and executive director of Ministry to State.