Genesis 48:1-7: Blessed to bless.

Some time later Joseph was told, ‘Your father is ill.’ So he took his two sons Manasseh and Ephraim along with him. When Jacob was told, ‘Your son Joseph has come to you,’ Israel rallied his strength and sat up on the bed.Jacob said to Joseph, ‘God Almighty[a] appeared to me at Luz in the land of Canaan, and there he blessed me and said to me, “I am going to make you fruitful and increase your numbers. I will make you a community of peoples, and I will give this land as an everlasting possession to your descendants after you.”‘Now then, your two sons born to you in Egypt before I came to you here will be reckoned as mine; Ephraim and Manasseh will be mine, just as Reuben and Simeon are mine. Any children born to you after them will be yours; in the territory they inherit they will be reckoned under the names of their brothers. As I was returning from Paddan,[b] to my sorrow Rachel died in the land of Canaan while we were still on the way, a little distance from Ephrath. So I buried her there beside the road to Ephrath’ (that is, Bethlehem).NIV

 

‘’When Jacob was told, ‘’Your son Joseph has come to you,’’ Israel rallied his strength and sat up on his bed’’ (2).

Most weeks, on a Monday morning, I pray about the meetings I’m going to have during the week, asking God to both bless me and make me a blessing. I want my pastoral visits to have a strengthening effect on people, as in the case of Joseph here, with Jacob. I ask for that kind of positive impact. Some pastoral encounters are far from easy, and will stretch you out of your ‘comfort zone’, but you want to be a ‘channel’ of blessing.

However, even when sick people get well, they must eventually die. We are all mortal. Jacob ‘’rallied’’, and was able to say and do some important things at the last. But he was soon to die (49:33)  Christianity is not an inoculation against sickness and dying; nor is it a vaccination against loss (7).

‘The removal of dear relations from us is an affliction the remembrance of which cannot but abide with us a great while. Strong affections in the enjoyment cause long afflictions in the loss.’ Matthew Henry.

That is a true observation. Jacob felt the loss of his beloved Rachel deeply.  However, in all of life’s ‘ups and downs’, we can affirm that God is working for our good in all things, and that nothing can separate us from His love (see Romans 8:28, 38 & 39).