“I’m a beloved and highly favored son of my Father”: meditation on Genesis 37:35

September 11, 2019

Genesis 37:35: All his sons and all his daughters rose up to comfort him, but he refused to be comforted and said, “No, I shall go down to Sheol to my son, mourning.” Thus his father wept for him.

Jacob believes that his son Joseph is dead. He’s inconsolable. But when he says, “I shall go down to Sheol to my son,” I’m reminded that, in a sense, this is what God does for us, his children. God the Son, the Second Person of the Trinity, descends not merely “to realm of the dead,” but to hell itself (on the cross, at least, in the cry of dereliction from Psalm 22:1: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).

Why does God do this? For the same reason that Jacob is inconsolable: out of a Father’s love for his highly favored “sons” (and daughters).

One prominent Christian musician made headlines recently, announcing that he had left the Christian faith. He cited as reasons his questions related to suffering, science, and the reliability of scripture. “No one in the church is talking about it,” he said. While that hasn’t been my experience—many Christian apologists have tackled these questions—I’d be happy to talk with him. Besides—and not to make light of his struggle—aren’t those questions relatively easy?

Here’s the hard one for me: Do I believe that my Father loves me the way Jacob loves Joseph—only perfectly? Do I believe that my Father wants to be with me, even me, as much as Jacob wants to be with Joseph—only infinitely more so? This is by far the hardest doctrine in Christianity.

At the risk of great hypocrisy, I believe it. But, dear Lord, let it change my life the way it should!

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