The feud between the brothers has been going on for a very long time. It began in a garden where the first brothers felt the first pangs of jealousy.
Through temptations and favouritism, promises and dreams the hopes and aspirations of brothers, families and nations are stirred into complex action. There are at once times of glorious joy and heartbreaking treachery with trickery, blame shifting weaving its way through this family of brothers, from father, to the son to the grandson. That quarrel seems to live in every age even into our current age.
What we feel in all of this are the real life echoes, not of thousands of years ago, but of today, yesterday, and in the fears of tomorrow. Amid the contradictions of all these manoeuvring God is still the major player; sometimes obvious, sometimes obscure, sometimes causing us to work out our own faith in the midst of what we know.
Walter Brueggemann writes of the “hiddenness” of God’s power in our lives. For now, though, we sit like Jacob, who didn’t like hearing about Joseph’s dreams of lording it over his parents and brothers, but was wise and patient and trusting enough, the text says, to wait for more of the story to unfold. Hasn’t Jacob already seen many amazing things from the hand of God at work in his life? He may wince when he hears the dream, but Terence Fretheim says that Jacob “takes these things and ponders them in his heart (see Luke 2:19), revealing an openness to future possibilities”
It is such a beautiful phrase; “taking and pondering these things in one’s heart,” which, at times is all we can do. It is just that kind of openness that will help us as we await the rest of the story, in next Sunday’s text (Gen. 45:1-15).
When all appears to be lost there is so much more to the story, and so much more to be told and lived. This is our story too. Just how is God at work in our story?