Summary: Dealing with fatherly fears from a biblical perspective - 2002 father’s day message.
A Father’s Fear
I have been a father for 11 years. Remember holding my first child in Regina, SK, in the fall of 1990. What an incredible experience! Then reality kicks in. Babies have a way to remind you that you don’t live in a perfect world. Because babies are the rudest people alive. They kick, fuss, complain, mess up your sleep, your floor, your clothes, the new diaper you just put on the bum you just cleaned, in fact your whole life is … Just a little thing but oh what big lungs they have! My wife and I have this conviction that God made babies so cute and innocent with a “what me?” look , in order to prevent us from committing unspeakable acts.
Is this all for real? How can this be possible, me a daddy? I don’t feel like I am up to this task! Then I had 3 more. With these experiences as a father, tendency-to think about the future. As a father, I desire a great future for them, maybe because I want to be taken care of in the future like any Asian parent, not just that they would succeed in life.
What will happen in the future with these four kids? How will I know they will survive or be safe in a harsh world? How can I know the future will be OK for them? In a real world of corrupting influences, where friends can be enemies, a world of economic downturns, where death and disease can strike with no warning, …oh, we fear for them. We try to raise our kids up in a good home, love them, provide them good meals, plan for their education etc. Perhaps some of us stay up nights worrying.
That’s the world that the narrative in Genesis 46:1-7 plays out for us. Jacob, the primary character in our text, is a family man, with a big family to feed, 11 strapping sons, their wives and their offsprings. His world is a world of danger. Jacob’s family is facing a famine in the land in which he is living in, Canaan the Promised Land. A famine so severe it hit the whole known world at that time (Gen.41:57). Jacob had to send his sons to buy food as he said “…so that we may live and not die” (Gen.42:2). It was desperate! But he did not send Benjamin, because he could not bear losing another son from his beloved wife, Rachel, for he thought he had lost Joseph forever. Here’s a deep crisis that affects the future of Jacob’s family… It seems the Promised Land does not look so promising? Is God gonna look after us, I believe Jacob is asking. Did not God say as to Jacob earlier, Gen. 35:11-12 recorded:
11 And God said to him, "I am God Almighty; be fruitful and increase in number. A nation and a community of nations will come from you, and kings will come from your body. 12 The land I gave to Abraham and Isaac I also give to you, and I will give this land to your descendants after you. The future looks dark. And it seems God’s promise spoken to him has failed and feels empty,.
How can there be increase in numbers to become a nation if they die from famine? Can this land which seems God-forsaken, can it sustain his family? Jacob struggles to find hope for the future… stressful Jacob… struggling with the promise of God for his family and the land given to him?
I wonder if anyone is feeling this today as well? Perhaps there is a father here, struggling about the future… God, I thought you were looking out for us… what’s up God? Jacob has experienced devastating loss in his life, the loss of Joseph… This is how he experienced that loss Gen 37:34-35
Then Jacob tore his clothes and put on sackcloth. He mourned deeply for his son for many days. 35His family all tried to comfort him, but it was no use. "I will die in mourning for my son," he would say, and then begin to weep.
Perhaps you too have wept… Here he is sensing perhaps more deaths… more disasters with the severe famine looming large over his head like a heavy cloud. He could not stand the thought of losing more of his beloved family members. He even cried out in desperation as Genesis 42:36 recorded: “Everything is against me.” Have u experienced this as well… or are u going thru’ this now? The loss of a family member, stressed out with a famine perhaps not of food, famine of spiritual breakthroughs with God, famine of God’s blessing in myriads of ways?
What’s God answer for a man who have struggled with him? Is Jacob’s story your, our story? In fact Jacob had a name change, his name was changed by God to “Israel” meaning “he struggles with God” (Gen.35:10) to reflect this man’s experience.