October 23, 2020


Genesis 43:1-14

“If it must be . . .”

—  Genesis 43:11

Jacob has reached the end of his rope. For most of his life, he has been fighting. He has used up a lot of resources and personal energy in trying to guarantee that he will receive God’s blessings, that things will turn out in his favor.

Being confronted with our limits is not a fun experience. Jacob’s cry here is one of resignation, not of trust in God’s providence. But when Jacob runs out of options for working in his own strength, he finally discovers the grace of God.

Perhaps you’re discovering how powerless you are to control your spouse or your children, or to push past others at work. Maybe you’ve tried and failed again and again to beat an addiction or a temptation that won’t go away, or you fear punishment for a sin that is catching up with you. Perhaps you realize that you have been trying to “pay God off” with your good deeds in the hopes that he will give you what you want in life.

Where are you “stuck”? Being confronted with limits can be a gift of God’s grace because it teaches us that we cannot save ourselves. And once we learn that important truth, we can begin to trust God’s providential care and his saving work through Jesus.

Holy Spirit, confront us with our limits. Let us see how much we need the saving grace that comes from Jesus. Teach us to trust not in ourselves but in Christ alone. Amen.

About the author — Joel Vande Werken

Joel Vande Werken has been a pastor since 2007, serving churches in Sussex, New Jersey, and in Whitinsville, Massachusetts. He and his wife, Brandie, have five young children.

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