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God with the patriarchs through hard times

February 7, 2022

Daily Scripture

Genesis 37:25-28; Genesis 42:1-2; Exodus 1:13-16

Genesis 37:25-28

25 When they sat down to eat, they looked up and saw a caravan of Ishmaelites coming from Gilead, with camels carrying sweet resin, medicinal resin, and fragrant resin on their way down to Egypt. 26 Judah said to his brothers, “What do we gain if we kill our brother and hide his blood? 27 Come on, let’s sell him to the Ishmaelites. Let’s not harm him because he’s our brother; he’s family.” His brothers agreed. 28 When some Midianite traders passed by, they pulled Joseph up out of the cistern. They sold him to the Ishmaelites for twenty pieces of silver, and they brought Joseph to Egypt.

Genesis 42:1-2

1 When Jacob learned that there was grain in Egypt, he said to his sons, “Why are you staring blankly at each other? 2 I’ve just heard that there’s grain in Egypt. Go down there and buy some for us so that we can survive and not starve to death.”

Exodus 1:13-16

13 So the Egyptians enslaved the Israelites. 14 They made their lives miserable with hard labor, making mortar and bricks, doing field work, and by forcing them to do all kinds of other cruel work.

15 The king of Egypt spoke to two Hebrew midwives named Shiphrah and Puah: 16 “When you are helping the Hebrew women give birth and you see the baby being born, if it’s a boy, kill him. But if it’s a girl, you can let her live.”

Daily Reflection & Prayer

Pastor Hamilton refuted a “commonly held but misguided” idea: “The sweeping message of the Bible is not a promise that those who believe and do good will not suffer. Instead the Bible is largely a book about people who refused to let go of their faith in the face of suffering.” * In Israel’s stories of their patriarchs, Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery; Jacob’s family faced starvation in a famine; and Egypt’s ruler enslaved the Israelites. Yet God was with them through it all (cf. Exodus 2:25).

  • We only have space today to briefly touch one piece of Joseph’s amazing story. Genesis 37 and 39 showed Joseph changing from a favored, selfish kid to a slave who won his Egyptian masters’ trust. We may see Joseph as the hero of the story, but Genesis saw the real “hero:” “The LORD was with Joseph and remained loyal to him” (Genesis 39:21). Can you trust that the Lord always remains loyal to you? How did that trust keep Joseph from spending his days in dispirited sulking?
  • Surely God felt Israel’s sufferings as they happened. God didn’t just wake up after 100 years of cruelty and think, “Hey—my people are hurting.” Much later, Peter described the mystery of God’s timing: “With the Lord a single day is like a thousand years and a thousand years are like a single day. The Lord isn’t slow to keep his promise” (2 Peter 3:8-9). How can you grasp that God is aware of any hurts you’re facing, and trust God even when things don’t immediately get better?

Lord God, thank you that not only when I am faithful, but even when I wander away, your steadfast love is always loyal to me and waiting to direct my life’s path. Amen.

GPS Insights

Ginny Howell

Ginny Howell serves as the Worship Experience Director for Resurrection, leading the church’s efforts to provide radical hospitality and an excellent worship experience across all of our locations. She’s a mom to three, g-momma to one sweet little boy, and shares much of her time with her closest companion, a rescued Pit Bull named Lola.

I was taking coffee orders and delivering drinks to healthcare workers at Advent Health a few weeks ago. When we asked who else might like a drink (but might not be able to step away from what they were doing), one of the nurses suggested we check the “monitor room.” We followed her directions down the hall to an open door. In a room barely bigger than a walk-in closet, we met three women whose eyes were glued to what looked like at least 50 different monitors stretching up to the ceiling. Each had multiple images displaying heart monitor data and patient vital signs. There were steady lines with consistent rhythms, some with lights flashing and calls coming in and going out to discuss different monitor readings.

These three women were watching, evaluating and, when needed, taking action to assist the nurses and doctors for each of these patients at multiple different locations, not just at the hospital we were in. The ER had a set of monitors, there were patients in a telemetry unit on monitors as well as patients being monitored at smaller facilities around town–all under the watchful eyes of these three nurses, who made it look effortless. They were pleased to accept our offer to go pick up a drink for them, and we couldn’t have been happier to serve these ladies who so clearly had such important work in front of them.

As I listened to Pastor Adam preach about suffering and God’s role (or not) in the devastating moments we each encounter in life, I couldn’t help but think about the ladies of the Monitor Room. Seems as though God must feel like there’s a whole lot of looking-out needed, but ultimately, we each keep marching forward in our own unique ways. When our monitors don’t look great for one reason or another, God undoubtedly picks up the phone and calls it in. Not in a magical-fairy kind of way that leads to making things all better (“poof”), but I believe God calls it in to and through each of us, every single day. That calming presence that keeps you from over-reacting to something you know would normally make you lose your temper may be God’s notification you need to check your own vitals….Someone you haven’t heard from in a long time calls out of the blue just when you needed to hear a kind word, maybe God’s alert system let someone know you needed their care….Your heart literally stops beating and a girl scout with a CPR badge is in your grocery store, so maybe God’s movement on her young heart to be ready to care for her community changes the trajectory of your whole world.

I told the nurses this room was not adequately named. It could more appropriately be called “Command Central.” I’m in awe of both the vast level of responsibility one must feel to have that job, and the profound impact they have in supporting the nurses, physicians and patients across our city connected to those lifesaving monitors.

No matter what our vitals are or what direction we might turn–right or wrong–God is there at Command Central, with us through all our days. May we feel God’s presence when we need it the most, even if that’s a random sunny Tuesday afternoon.

© 2024 Resurrection: A United Methodist Church. All Rights Reserved.
Scripture quotations are taken from The Common English Bible ©2011. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Hamilton, Adam, Why?: Making Sense of God’s Will. Abingdon Press. Kindle Edition.