Genesis 44:1: “Now Joseph gave these instructions to the steward of his house:  ‘Fill the men’s sacks with as much food as they can carry, and put each man’s silver in the mouth of his sack. Then put my cup, the silver one, in the mouth of the youngest one’s sack, along with the silver for his grain.’ And he did as Joseph said.”

Observation: During their first grain-buying trip to Egypt, Joseph had recognized his brothers and had created circumstances intended to result in a future reunion of the family. He demanded the brothers’ return with their youngest brother Benjamin, and held Simeon in prison as ransom (Gen. 42:19–24). The brothers had then made a second trip to Egypt, this time with Benjamin in tow. This time Joseph instructs his trusted steward to set up an even more terrifying scenario: the men would not only find their grain payments in the mouth of each sack, but the governor’s silver cup would be discovered in the sack belonging to the son most beloved by the father.

Application: Joseph designed a plan to get his brothers’ full attention. With the appearance that each of the men had robbed a generous governor of Egypt, their first thought was of their utter innocence. But further reflection reminded them of the sin they had committed years earlier against Joseph and their father, and they began to see their present fear as the deserved result. Joseph had a strategy for reuniting the family in a place of safety and plenty, but he first wanted to test their hearts to see if they were repentant. His plot succeeded perfectly, revealing him to be thoughtful, strategic, and patient. He well understood the family’s greatest vulnerability: the prospect of harm coming to Benjamin and the overwhelming grief such loss would bring to their aged father. Their point of vulnerability is exactly where Joseph struck, and is a perfect illustration of how God works in our lives today. 

He longs for me to be reconciled to Him, so He surveys my life and instructs His steward (the Holy Spirit) to apply pressure at exactly the point where it will do the most good. In His surgical precision, there is not a moment of wasted effort. Just as a ring through the tender nose of even the meanest bull leads to meek compliance, so He purposes to win my submission by touching my area of greatest vulnerability, that tenderest place in my heart. He knows precisely what He is doing: thoughtfully, strategically, patiently drawing me into a place of His safety and provision.

Prayer: O Lord, that’s why it hurts so much, isn’t it? You are working on the tenderest place in my heart, that place where wounding has occurred and the raw sores, once uncovered, are so sensitive to the touch.  I trust You, Lord, to bring healing that only You can bring to those exposed places I’ve tried so hard to keep hidden. Have Your way, Lord.