A Faithless Lament
Genesis 42:36
And Jacob their father said to them, Me have you bereaved of my children: Joseph is not, and Simeon is not…

I. ATHEISTIC. He makes no mention of God. For the moment he has forgotten how the Lord had led him at first to Laban's house, and had given him prosperity during his twenty-one years' sojourn in Padan-aram; how He had cared for him when he left his father-in-law; how He had mollified for him the anger of Esau; how He had blessed him at Penuel after the night-long wrestling; and how He had protected him at the time when the violence of some of his sons might have drawn upon him the vengeance of the Shechemites. Now God was in this new trial as much and as really as He was in these old ones, and if Jacob had remembered that, he would not have spoken as he did. We shall see, indeed, that after a while, when his sons were bidding him farewell on their departure for Egypt for ore food, he came back to his old trustfulness, and offered for them this prayer: "God Almighty give you mercy before the man, that he may send away your other brother, and Benjamin. If I be bereaved of my children, I am bereaved." But at the first, when the full shadow of his trouble passed over him, God was to him, for the moment, eclipsed, and that only made his trial heavier.

II. UNTRUE. All these things were not against him. They were really working together for his good. They were onward steps in that process by which he was to recover his long-lost won, and was to have conferred upon him those years of happiness that, as we read the history, seem to us to be like the Sabbath of his early life, which, after the labour and sorrow of the week, he was enabled to spend in rest, in thankfulness, and in joy. How he would blame himself for these hasty words in those latter days, when he went to see Joseph in his palace, and took his grandsons between his knees; and I can imagine him saying to the God of his fathers, after all the riddle of his life had been unfolded to him, "Now I know the thoughts of Thy heart towards me, and I bless Thee that they were thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give me this delightful end."

1. Now, from this analysis of Jacob's experience, we may learn, in the first place, that God is in all the events of our lives. Many of us are ready enough to admit that He is in the prosperous things, but when trouble comes upon us we attribute that solely to others, and "n that way we lose the comfort which otherwise me might have enjoyed under its endurance. The mercies of a lifetime are often ignored by us under the bitterness of a single trial; and God, who has been our friend for years, is forgotten altogether, while we passionately condemn some others as the authors of our affliction. But we shall never find consolation that way. The first thing we ought to say regarding every trial is, "It is the Lord." If, instead of turning on his sons, Jacob had only turned to his God, he would have been sustained; and we may be sure of this, that trouble never yet overwhelmed a man so long as he could see God in it.

2. Then, again, from our analysis of Jacob's case, we ought to learn to pass no sentence of condemnation on God's work until it is completed. "Judge nothing before the time." We must not argue, from the pain of a part of the process, that there is evil intended to us in the result of the whole. The surgeon has a stern aspect, and apparently an unfeeling hand, when he cuts into the diseased organ or amputates the broken limb, but he is working towards healing all the time. And so it is with God and the discipline of His children. Wait until He finish His work before you condemn it.

3. Finally, if these two things be true, that God is in our trials, and that the outcome of them all under His supervision will be good, we may surely stay ourselves in trouble by earnest prayer. "Is any among you afflicted, let him pray." We have to deal with no blind, remorseless law. The Lord Jesus has taught us to say, "Our Father," and when we enter fully into the meaning of these words, and recognize clearly that His providence is universal, we shall have no difficulty in saying "Thy will be done"; for the Father's will is always love to His own children. That will sustain us while we are on earth.

(W. M. Taylor, D. D.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: And Jacob their father said unto them, Me have ye bereaved of my children: Joseph is not, and Simeon is not, and ye will take Benjamin away: all these things are against me.

WEB: Jacob, their father, said to them, "You have bereaved me of my children! Joseph is no more, Simeon is no more, and you want to take Benjamin away. All these things are against me."

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