Every household is its own ecosystem, where persons, rooms, objects, rhythms, histories, and memories all work together regardless of harmony or dysfunction. So much must fit together for households to thrive; even the smallest things can unravel the family fabric.
These two short verses convey the relational dynamics in Jacob’s household. He probably loves all of his sons, but Joseph is the light of his life. This isn’t Joseph’s fault. We have no indication that he wrangled his way to the robe that becomes the seed of bitterness for his siblings.
Jacob is the tricky heel-grabber and God-wrestler. He continues his pattern of reversing the natural order of family life by refusing to give the eldest son the father’s favor. Jacob elevates his second youngest instead, the one born out of impossible circumstances. Nothing about Jacob follows convention.
If Joseph’s brothers could see the situation from an another perspective, maybe they would exchange their collective hatred for something more generous. But instead of contributing joy and support to Jacob’s household, they compare their situation to Joseph’s, take offense at their brother’s blessings, and close themselves off from him.
A counselor once told me, “Resentments are unfulfilled expectations.” When I read Joseph’s story through the lens of his siblings, I can’t help but see those concealed expectations begin to surface and danger arise because things went differently than they anticipated. When we take matters into our own hands, that danger intensifies. But when we hand our unfulfilled expectations to God, we have the chance to see possibilities and paths we would not have seen otherwise.
When have my expectations led to bitterness and resentment? What unhealthy expectation do I now carry that I need to place in God’s hands?
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to let go of my expectations, and wisdom to know the difference. Amen.