How can we cope with and most effectively experience life in a chaotic world? We live in tumultuous times: a pandemic that just doesn’t seem to quit, isolation and despair and death surrounding it — to say nothing about the deepening divide between American citizens as more and more of us turn to alcohol, drugs, violence, and suicide as outlets.
“Self-defeating activities,” Pastor Scott called them during our Sunday study together.
Of course, the answer is Jesus — always! But as Pastor Scott also noted, such a seemingly “simplistic” solution isn’t always going to be received well by others who are in deep need, especially if they don’t have Jesus in their lives.
So how can we help them? And how can we help our fellow brothers and sisters — and yes, even ourselves? The answer again is Jesus — but by going deeper into Jesus for those in deep need.
And one of the ways we can go deeper is again by looking at our continuing journey in the life of Joseph. Because as we’ve already seen a number of times, many circumstances in Joseph’s life parallel events in Jesus’ life. In a very powerful way, Joseph truly points to Christ’s future arrival in Israel.
In Genesis 46, we saw that Jacob, the father of Joseph, is processing the news that his son — whom he long since believed was dead — is alive! What’s more, Jacob is going to move his entire family to Egypt to be with Joseph — and at a time when Jacob was well beyond years that folks typically make such a life-changing sojourn.
But the Lord, once again, comes through — and speaks to Jacob in a dream, saying “‘Jacob, Jacob.’ And [Jacob] said, ‘Here I am.’ Then [the Lord] said, ‘I am God, the God of your father. Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for there I will make you into a great nation. I myself will go down with you to Egypt, and I will also bring you up again, and Joseph’s hand shall close your eyes.’”
Wow! We see Jacob’s unhesitant obedience to God, answering “here I am” — indeed, a lesson for all of us to be ready whenever God speaks to our hearts. And we again see a parallel with Christ, who told his disciples after his resurrection, “Behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
That’s the key to dealing with the chaos in our world. Throughout his life, Jacob has literally “practiced the presence of God” — operating as much as he could with the Lord foremost in his mind. And because of that Jacob readily obeys God in this latest communique and is in a prime position to live out the Lord’s amazing commands to him, even near the end of his life. In the same way, Jesus’ disciples were bolstered not only be seeing him alive after he had been executed — parallels again with Joseph — but also by Christ’s promise that he would be with them always. Talk about a boost of confidence!
Therefore, it’s imperative that each of us keep our connections with God strong and vibrant. We ought to “practice” the Lord’s presence in our lives. If you’re a Christian, you became one in an instant when you believed in Jesus for the first time; but trust is a daily task in aftermath of that wondrous moment of belief. It’s something we learn over time, even despite missteps and failures.
Acting out that belief that Jesus is always with us amid our chaotic world is important for another reason that Pastor Scott shared: Each believer in Christ has a unique mission, and each of us must try our best to fulfill it. Sometimes that takes courage as we look into the face of uncertainty and fear, particularly in these challenging times. And that’s why we must lean on the truth that Jesus is with us through it all — and already knows the outcome!
When we’re in God’s presence, we have order despite chaos, we have joy despite disappointment — and his “being there with us” makes all the difference. And it goes beyond the truth that God is everywhere — because it’s an active choice to enter into his presence. It’s a different experience. And again, it’s something we must choose to do on a daily basis.
So, don’t be content with living on the outskirts of God’s house when he’s long since prepared a place for you inside it and is waiting on you to finally answer his invitation to enter! Go beyond your mere status as a Christian — and live like a child of God who knows deep down that the Creator is with you always.
Indeed, as our own church’s motto declares: Take Jesus home.