Summary: Jacob saw his life falling apart when in reality God was bringing it all together. The sons saw God punishing them, when in reality God was blessing them more than they had ever been blest.
Myron Maddsen, an outstanding author, speaker, and Christian leader
in New Orleans, tells of his experience of interpreting his Bible story book as a
young boy. He noted that all the characters had long flowing garments down
to their feet, and angels had similar garb. So he concluded that only women
were chosen by God, for he saw all of them wearing dresses. One day he got
up the nerve to ask his mother why there aren't any men in heaven? His
mother laughed heartily and asked where he got the idea that there was not
men there. He told her that his Bible story book had only pictures of women
and children. She explained to him that the men in the pictures were not
wearing dresses, but robes. This was the greatest revelation of his life up to
that point, for he was fearful that his only hope of getting to heaven was to die
young or have a sex change.
He thought he was just dealing with the facts right before his face, but he
was really dealing with his interpretation of what he saw, and that was far
different from the reality of what was being pictured. There is more to life
than what we see. A Mr. Goff was riding on a train and he saw a man off on
the side of the road fixing a flat in the rain. He said to himself, "Poor fellow,"
and he turned to the man next to him and said, "I wonder when they are going
to make a tire that won't go flat?" The man responded, "I hope never. I sell
tires, and the trouble is they make them so good now I can hardly make a
Mr. Goff was suddenly made to realize that there is more than one
perspective on what seems obviously bad. I remember when I was made to see
this. I use to play tennis with a vet who went to my church in South Dakota.
Most of members were farmers, and so I was conscious of how important
healthy animals were to them. But the vet informed me that if animals never
got sick he would have no work and no income. He was a tither also, and so I
wondered what I should do as a pastor to encourage him. Should I pray that
the other member's animals get sick so he could increase his giving? I didn't
do that, but it made me realize that a sick cow which was a burden to one
member was a blessing to another member. I was able to see that the same
event could be seen as both good and bad because there was more than one
Joseph had this ability to see life from more than one perspective. His
father Jacob, however, tended to see only his own self-centered perspective,
and that is why he is groaning that everything is against him. The ten
brothers are feeling the same, and they concluded that God was punishing
them even when He was really blessing them. If Joseph would have seen only
what was visible, imagine how depressing it would be. His brothers rejected
him, and they sold him into slavery. His master had him thrown in prison for
a false charge. Not everything was going his way at all. If facts are all you go
by, Joseph is the one who should be saying that everything is against him. But
we never hear that from Joseph, for he is able to see there more to life than
what meets the eye.
Faith is an assumption that negative events can be
interpreted to be positive if seen from the right perspective. If you can wait
for that perspective to appear, you will see what God sees, and so see good
where you thought there was only the bad.
Joseph was just such a man of faith, but Jacob had an eye for the facts only.
Just give me the facts was his theme. "Joseph is dead, Simeon is in jail in
Egypt, and now you want to rip Benjamin from my protective care. It is
obvious from the evidence that God has reneged on his promise to bless me
and the whole world through me. I am cursed and not blest." This was the
way he was interpreting the events of his life. He never was asking whether it
could be the way God was working to accomplish his promise. You have
heard the old saying, "I cried because I had no shoes till I saw a man who had
no feet." In other words, "I saw life only from a self-centered perspective and
felt cursed. But when I saw life from the perspective of those who would
gladly trade places with me I felt blest." So whether a man with no shoes is