Monday, January 20, 2014

Life Is Complicated, Even In the Bible

I just realized something---there was a lot of unrecognized and unacknowledged grief in the lives of Bible people.

Here's a quick look at Jacob, who's name was later changed to Israel. The twelve tribes of Israel were his sons, by the way, so he's quite the celebrity. But, wow, he had some grief!

"Rachel's Tomb"
He had two wives, Leah and Rachel. He loved Rachel more than Leah, but she died during the childbirth of their second son.

Jacob's first loss: RACHEL, the wife he loved most (Genesis 35:19-21)

Jacob's second loss: ISAAC, his father (Genesis 35:27-29)

Jacobs third loss: JOSEPH, his favorite son

Joseph was the first of Rachel's sons, and there was no hiding the fact he was Jacob's favorite. Joseph's brothers began to hate him, and when he was 17 years old that hatred festered into a horrible crime and cover-up. Jacob seems to have taken Rachel and Isaac's death in stride, but look what happened when he's lead to believe that Joseph died.

So they took Joseph’s tunic, and slaughtered a male goat and dipped the tunic in the blood; and they sent the varicolored tunic and brought it to their father and said, “We found this; please examine it to see whether it is your son’s tunic or not.” Then he examined it and said, “It is my son’s tunic. A wild beast has devoured him; Joseph has surely been torn to pieces!” So Jacob tore his clothes, and put sackcloth on his loins and mourned for his son many days. Then all his sons and all his daughters arose to comfort him, but he refused to be comforted. And he said, “Surely I will go down to Sheol in mourning for my son.” So his father wept for him. (Genesis 37:31-35 NASB)

Joaob's losses may have occurred over fifteen years, but we know that time is irrelevant in loss. We see that Jacob had no strength left to get over Jacob's death. It knocked him to his knees.

Read Genesis 50:20 for the words of Joseph looking back over the whole ordeal. But what about Jacob and the years in between when he thought Joseph was dead? Did he cope? What were his choices? What other tragedies and challenges did he face? How is he an example for us today?

I don't know if there are any "right answers." But what I do know is that we're here for each other and we should talk about this. If Jacob were here today, how would you respond to him?

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  1. Babs...Yes, the different reactions to loss are not excluded from the bible. If Jacob was here I'd listen to him, and try to help him see things from an eternal perspective. Some say Jacob lived, in guilt, and mournful regret due to his poor fathering skills which had deeply impacted his children...yet they had a seven day period of mourning for him, also, a national period lasting 70 days...and Joseph threw himself on his father and wept for him when he breathed his last. Why we are expected to hush grief up, especially if we are Christians beggars belief. xxx

  2. Genesis 37:33-35 tells us the brothers of Joseph went to Jacob to tell him about Joseph death, and after hearing this news Jacob refused to be comforted, he tore his clothes and mourned and grieved for many days.
    Jacob said "I will go down to my grave mourning for my son.". Some of Jacob's family tried to help alleviate his grief but Jacob absolutely refused to be comforted, he refused anything that would help alleviate his grief. Jacob loved and hugged his despair and would not let it go.
    Could it be the reason Jacob refused to be comforted was that he had not yet given up hope that Joseph was still alive?
    It has been said that a continual ongoing anguish of grief is a sort of loyalty for the deceased. (but it doesn't glorify God)
    I ask myself "have I refused to be comforted?"
    To everything there is a season, a time to be born and a time to die. A time to grieve(weep) and a time to refrain from weeping.
    As we look to the God of all grace with his love and mercy help us to move on.
    There is comfort in unexpected ways - our daily sunshine, a card, a phone call, a hug, a compliment, a smile, a promise from scripture and of course the indwelling Holy Spirit. May we pray daily and ask God to open our spirits to discern those precious little comforts he sends our way and not be as Jacob in refusing to be comforted.

  3. It has been said that in England The Royal Family in public are trained and taught to be stoic, they are trained not to express or to show emotion in any form.
    I'm so thankful that Jesus did not hesitate from showing emotions. He continually showed love, compassion, sympathy, mercy and joy and great grace for great grief..
    He also reminds us that human's can only do so much for a broken heart..
    The only filling for a sorrowful heart can come from the one who made it.
    "He heals up the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds"
    Ps. 147:3


  4. If we ever want an example of how NOT to treat our children, all we have to do is look at Jacob. He showed so much favoritism to Joseph that his other sons hated him and wanted to kill him (of course his dreams didn't help the matter). And when Reuben went to Jacob to tell him the ruler of Egypt wanted to meet Benjamin, Jacob said "My son will not go down there with you; his brother is dead and he is the only one left." Can you imagine that? He was looking at Reuben and saying Benjamin was his only son he had left! That must have made Reuben feel like he was was a nobody. That is what I call a dysfunctional family. I think he was so caught up in his grief of Rachel and Joseph that he lost touch with the living. His sons suffered because of it. The bible doesn't tell us that Jacob grieved for Leah, but it does tell us that he gave instructions to be buried where Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Rebekah were buried and says " and there I buried Leah." Which sounds like another grief in his life. He buried Leah with his parents so I think it was significant grief. Jacob was a man of sorrow.


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