“34 Then Jacob tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and mourned for his son many days. 35 All his sons and daughters came to comfort him, but he refused to be comforted. ‘No,’ he said, ‘I will continue to mourn until I join my son in the grave.’ So his father wept for him.36 Meanwhile, the Midianites sold Joseph in Egypt to Potiphar, one of Pharaoh’s officials, the captain of the guard.”NIV
‘’…but he refused to be comforted’’ (35).
It was an expression in a book by Gordon Macdonald. He was writing about the different types of people a pastor may encounter in a lifetime of ministry, and he mentioned ‘the unrelievables.’ That phrase struck a chord with me, because I recognise there are people who remain ‘stuck’ in an emotional quagmire, because they choose to be. No matter how much time or attention you give to them, they will not heal, because their wounds, their sense of victimhood, define them. This, tragically, has become their identity.
Now, of course, Jacob was not that kind of person. But the statement that ‘’he refused to be comforted’’ reminded me of Gordon Macdonald’s words. Our hearts go out to Jacob in his great loss and sorrow. As far as he was concerned, he was now bereft of his dearest son. What parent would not grieve? Furthermore, the journey through grief is deeply personal, and no-one can say just when the grieving (or the worst of it) will – or should – end for anyone. But one thing is for sure, if a person should ‘refuse’ to be comforted they will not be.
However, there is one other thing to point out here: Jacob was believing a lie. Again, we can’t blame Jacob for believing the lie. It was told him by his sons. Why would he disbelieve them? Also, he was presented with ‘evidence’ (31-33) and came to his own natural, and logical, conclusion from it. But for all that it appeared true, the lie was a lie, and Jacob lived with the heart-wrenching pain of it for too long.
“No…I will continue to mourn until I join my son in the grave’’ (35).
But as the very next verse shows, Joseph was not dead and in the grave, he was alive, in Egypt!
Oh how bitterly we will pay for believing a lie.
PRAYER: Lord, please lead me by your Spirit into all truth. Help me to know the truth and its liberating power.