Heroes and Villains: Reuben
It's so hard to find ourselves feeling helpless, isn't it? That no matter what decision we make, we understand that we're about to be going on a ride and it's not going to be a comfortable one.
This week, I've been taking care of my son's diabetes and no matter what I did, nothing helped. Nothing brought him back down to be "in range." I watched in complete helplessness as my normally active son spent most of his day laying around, not wanting to do much. I watched in helplessness when he would exercise and find himself breathless and greatly lacking energy. And I watched in helplessness that despite all of our effort in feeding him low carb foods, his blood sugar would continue to rise as if nothing had been done. We were on a ride.
It's hard to not be upset when your baby is suffering. It's hard to not be angry at this horrible disease. Even still, I've come to understand that our current journey is the one that God has placed us on, even if the purpose is entirely unclear. Despite the uncomfortable parts of dealing with diabetes, we have fantastic support, a medical staff available with a simple phone call, and he even has friends and family to let him know that he's not alone. It's such a hard journey, but it's one that God has gone before us on. It's one that He chooses to walk with us, He has never abandoned us, not once!
Read Genesis 37:12-36
In these verses, we see God's plan for Joseph's life begin to really take flight. It starts with a painful betrayal by his older brothers who first intend to kill him and who ultimately sell him into slavery. It's one of those stories that makes little sense and I'm sure in the middle of it, God's plan was entirely unclear. But God was preparing Joseph to realize his God-sized dreams (Genesis 1:1-12).
In the middle of this drama, we find Reuben. Reuben is helplessly watching his brothers making decisions that would affect all of their lives for the rest of their existence. He's watching them make decisions that would tear their father up a way that only losing a child would ever do. There is so very little that he can do and you know what he does? As much as he can!
First, he saves Joseph from their murderous intentions. Next, he suggests putting him in the pit, all the while intending to come rescue Joseph and restore him to their father. But this is where things go haywire, the brothers act without Reuben's knowledge and sell Joseph into slavery.
It's easy to think that Reuben did less than he possibly could, but if we zoom out, we will see God's plan so clearly. God used Reuben to not only save Joseph's life but also to put Joseph on God's intended path. Joseph's path would eventually lead to being Pharaoh's second in command, saving Egypt and his family from the terrible drought that was coming. So we learn that Reuben's small contribution was absolutely perfect for what God had in mind for Joseph's life.
What we learn from Reuben
To consider the consequences of our actions and how they affect our loved ones. I love that Reuben thought of their dad. He thought of how his dad would feel to face the loss of his youngest son. His brothers, in their anger, refused to consider the consequences of their decisions. They were so blinded by their anger that they didn't even think about it! When it was all said and done and as they watched their father grieve the loss of Joseph, do you think they regretted it? Was Joseph's annoying qualities worth being rid of him for them? They didn't see God's big picture. Later they would see how God turn their terrible decision into something good for all of them!
The beauty of just doing "enough." Do we ever think about our own small contributions? We may walk away feeling downcast, considering all the ways that we could have done more, but what if our small contribution was absolutely perfect for what God had in mind? God takes our small contributions and turns them into something huge throughout the course of humanity's story. Reuben's small offering is exactly what was required for Joseph's story.
God has a bigger plan even when it seems unclear. When we zoom in and stand in the midst of the drama playing out in these verses, it's hard to see God's plan. But when we zoom out, we can see His hands at work in each life referenced in these verses, the most obvious of which is Joseph. You can see how God orchestrates it all, turns it around for good, and allows His will and provision to shine through. Up close, this is all unclear. Back up a bit, and we see that God's plan is so much bigger than one person. It's bigger than you. It's bigger than me. When I look at my own son, our situation is zoomed in, but in time, when we're able to back up a bit and see God's plan unfold before our eyes, we will see that His plan is bigger than me, it's bigger than my son, it's bigger than any single one of us. Also, His plan includes all of us!
I'm so thankful that God uses our seemingly insignificant contributions and reveals to us His bigger plan and how our small contribution took part in it. I'm thankful that when I don't think I've done enough, that sometimes I've done exactly what He has required of me. I'm even more thankful that in every situation, God can turn it all around for GOOD!