It is a lovely portrayal of the mystery of God’s dealings with us. I’m talking about the analogy of the beautiful quilt. In all of life’s circumstances, God has in mind His wonderful but as of yet unimaginable outcome, but we see most of His workings, only from the backside. The knots that we observe don’t show us His incredible intertwining and delicate work that brings about a finished product that will someday, overwhelm us.
That was what I really meant as I was talking with my friend. We were discussing the Book of Job. I was saying that I like reading chapters 38-42. That is because in those chapters we see “the front of the quilt” beginning to emerge, with all of its beauty. The first 37 chapters picture, for the most part, only the “knots on the backside”. Yet, all of a sudden, God spoke and Job was greatly comforted. I must admit that I am glad that Job’s friends receive, in my opinion, a much-deserved righteous scolding from the Lord. Yes, it is surely true that I have received that same gift from Him, Hebrews 12:5-6, but back to the knots on the back of the quilt. Let’s see what we can learn from “the knot of sadness”, specifically for today as we look into Joseph’s life.
First, we are reminded that sadness is a very painful knot. Genesis 42:21 gives us a glimpse into Joseph’s pain, brought about by the cruelty of his brothers, Genesis 37:23-28. Imagine his brothers sitting down and eating, after having ripped off Joseph’s robe and thrown him into a pit. Then they sold him to strangers who took him from his homeland and his father’s house. They heard Joseph’s distress, but his sadness didn’t cause them to abort their plan. Oh, the pain of that betrayal and being torn from the familiar with such callousness. No wonder his soul was in distress. How was this young man able to endure such pain? In Genesis 49, we read Jacob’s assessments and blessings concerning his sons. Here we learn about each of them, discovering truths concerning both the character of these men and what God had for them in the future. Genesis 49:22-26 speaks of Joseph. Tucked in these verses we see that enduring the “knot of sadness” was possible because of Joseph’s wonderful God. In Genesis 49:23, we are reminded once again of the fact that Joseph was harassed and shot at by the archers. What a picture of the pain he endured. Yet, this honest assessment of his circumstances is followed by a beautiful picture of Joseph’s powerful and loving Helper. We learn a great deal about Him through His descriptive Names. God is called the Mighty One of Jacob, the one Who kept him strong. The Lord is also referred to as Shepherd. What a reminder of the care over Joseph God exercised, as spelled out by David, Psalm 23:1-6. He was also sustained by the Stone of Israel, a reminder of God being his refuge and stronghold, Psalm 94:22. And the description continues. Joseph’s Helper was the God of his Fathers, the same One Who made covenants with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, Genesis 28:13. No wonder Genesis 49:22 calls Joseph a fruitful vine. He was powerfully upheld by his Savior. Though he undoubtedly wasn’t able to understand all he went through, as we can’t, we are told that His God was with him, Genesis 39:2; Genesis 39:21. These things were true, even though Joseph had no inkling concerning what the Lord would someday do for him and his people. Joseph would be second in command in Egypt and he would be used to keep multitudes alive during the famine. The beauty of the front of the quilt would eventually be seen!
Second, we are not the only ones who experience “knots of sadness”. They come in every life and can be large or small. God is the One Who so often uses us, in spite of our own sadness, to minister His love into someone else’s knotty experiences. In Genesis 40:1-8, we meet two officials of the King of Egypt. Because they found themselves on the bad side of this powerful man, they were locked up in the same jail where Joseph “just happened” to be in charge, Genesis 39:21-23. Just the right circumstances for God to do some of His special intertwining. I love this part because we can see how the Lord had kept his servant Joseph. In spite of all he had suffered, Joseph still cared about others. We notice that because he observed the knot of sadness in the lives of the cupbearer and the baker. He was not drowning in his own difficulties so deeply that he was unable to see that others also had problems. Another thing I appreciate about Joseph’s interaction with these officials is that when they told him what was troubling them, Joseph didn’t diminish their struggle to understand, due to his own much more serious circumstances. Instead, He honored God by offering to use his gift, with the reminder that God was the One Who would give them the answer they desired. He didn’t take God’s glory for himself.
How about us? I am so thankful that God does not gloss over the pain of sadness. He knows it to be real, having experienced it along with us, Isaiah 63:9; John 11:35. He has promised to be with us and be our Helper, just as He was Joseph’s, Hebrews 13:5-6. In addition, 2 Corinthians 1:3-7 reminds us that we are sustained by the God of all comfort. As He comforts us, He often intertwines our lives with others who need the same thing. Like Joseph, we then have the opportunity to be sensitive to the needs of others and honor the One Who cared for us. If the Lord opens a door to use our spiritual gift to bless someone, we have the opportunity to honor Him as the One Who gave us that good gift.
Lord, Thank You that You are at work in the “knot of sadness”. You know that we would have never chosen it, but we are thankful for Your unfathomable work in bringing Your beauty through the knots Your people experience.