In my mind, the mark of an excellent book is the mystery and beauty of watching the story unfold. The ending is apparent, but as you read, it becomes clear that the author had other plans…plans that don’t necessarily match your own. The storyline keeps you fully engaged, feeling almost as if you are living through the plot points and surprises alongside the characters. After suffering or celebrating with them, you feel an attachment, and it’s as if you are saying goodbye when the book comes to an end. Of course, as we read the greatest Story, that of the Scriptures, we know that the Author’s purpose is all grounded in His glory and our good. We know the ending, and we are truly a part of it as the body of Christ.
This particular portion of the Story is one of those that, regardless of the number of times you read it, simply leaves you on the edge of your seat. The tension can be felt as the brothers begin to feel the weight of the guilt for their actions against Joseph all those years ago. The agony is palpable as Jacob comes to the realization that he may lose yet another favored son. The emotion is tangible as Joseph tests and observes the character of his estranged brothers. Even though we know the ending, we still feel the uncertainty at how the string of events Joseph sets into play will unfold.
Ultimately what we see is a family fractured by sin, a set of brothers burdened with decades of guilt, a man who has endured a lifetime of suffering, yet still forgives, and a sovereign God with a redemptive plan for His glory. As we read these chapters and experience the almost tangible emotions, let’s be reminded that this is not just an excellent book. This is an account displaying the greatness of our God and his provisional working in the midst of our suffering. Let’s be humbled by the suffering in our own lives and astounded by God’s good plan. Let’s pause and reflect on our own engagement in our calling to be Christ-like and share the wonder of the gospel. After all, the Author’s plan is indeed better than our own.