Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.Luke 22:42
Jacob and his ten sons stand reunited in a land of famine, wrapped in a swirling tempest of fear, blame, scarcity, accusation, and confusion. It is all too much: the report of a harsh Egyptian overlord, the silver in the sacks, the memory of losing Joseph, the loss of Simeon, the possibility of losing Benjamin. Jacob’s feelings fit into one short phrase: “Everything is against me.”
Reuben, knowing they will eventually need more grain, is willing to risk the lives of his own two sons in an attempt to secure his father’s trust, but Jacob’s response is unequivocal: “My son will NOT go down there with you.” His reasoning? “If harm comes to him on the journey you are taking, you will bring my gray head down to the grave in sorrow.” He cannot bear it. The suffering would be too great. Benjamin must remain at home.
Weeks later, though, when the grain runs out, Jacob changes his mind. He sends the brothers back to Egypt along with the best produce of the land as a gift, twice the silver, and his cherished Benjamin. He truly hopes the trip will go well: “May God Almighty grant you mercy before the man so that he will let your other brother and Benjamin come back with you.” But somehow he has fully accepted that it may not go well at all: “As for me, if I am bereaved, I am bereaved.” (Genesis 43:14)
Jacob had a change of heart. His rigid “no” gave way to a gentle “yes.” He found a way to bear the possibility of unbearable suffering and in doing so he walked ahead of Jesus on that path towards those seven life-changing words: “not my will but thine be done”.
Today I will think about that path.