Cup Half Empty?

Jacob’s conversation with his new landlord, Pharaoh, caught my attention this morning.

He and his entire house had moved to Egypt. He had been reunited with the son he had loved above all his sons, the one who had been dead to him for decades, and now they were about to pitch their tents in the best Egypt had to offer to a bunch of herds keepers. But when asked by Pharaoh, “How’s life been treating you?” Jacob replies, in essence, “Could have been better.”

Then Joseph brought in Jacob his father and stood him before Pharaoh, and Jacob blessed Pharaoh. And Pharaoh said to Jacob, “How many are the days of the years of your life?” And Jacob said to Pharaoh, “The days of the years of my sojourning are 130 years. Few and evil have been the days of the years of my life, and they have not attained to the days of the years of the life of my fathers in the days of their sojourning.”

(Genesis 47:7-9 ESV)

Few and evil. That’s how he summarizes the days of his life. Kind of sad in a way.

After all, he had such high hopes. And not just the “I wish I may, I wish I might” hopes. No, his hope was seeded by heaven sent, vision delivered, God spoken promises. The land was to be his. One day it would be occupied by him and his offspring. And his offspring? Well, they would be more than could be numbered. A great nation. And one that would eventually possess a far-reaching legacy–“and in you and your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed” (Gen. 28:13-14).

But here he was. Not in the land of promise but in Egypt. Having left of land of his fathers because it was dead of famine. And he had walked into Egypt with only 70 people under his banner after 130 years and having fathered children through four wives.  70 people.  Pretty easy to do a headcount.  Nowhere near like trying to number the dust of the earth.

So when asked about his days, he says they weren’t as many as his father’s, Isaac, or his grandfather’s, Abraham. And those relatively few days had been hard and evil days.

He perhaps thought back to how he had schemed away his brother’s birthright and blessing and ended up a fugitive on the run. How he had served an uncle who was a hard taskmaster and just as deceitful as he was. How he had ended up in the middle of a jealousy war between unplanned two wives. How his daughter had been shamefully abused. How his boys constantly seemed to find a way to stir up trouble. And how a part of him had died inside when Joseph had been reported missing in action.

So here he was. Reaching the end at 130 years old, and not at a 175 or a 180 years old. With but a small clan, unlike the hoard his brother, Esau, was ruling over. Setting up tent in a foreign land . . . again!  Still a sojourner. Yet a pilgrim.

Few and evil. That’s how he described his days. Cup half empty. Heavy sigh.

Or was it really a cup half full?

How many people could say they had been visited by God? That the majestic sovereign God of all creation had made Himself known to them? That they were part of a pretty exclusive cohort who had been given promises by the God who cannot lie, One who possesses infinite power to make good on His pledge?

Bottom line was that Jacob had heard from God. He had wrestled with God. And all through his pilgrimage He had been assured by God, “I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you” (28:15). Not a bad place to be.

The best was yet to come. But in God’s timing. It would get tougher before it got better, but God’s presence would be sufficient. God would deliver, but Jacob wouldn’t see the final fulfillment this side of heaven. Yet, he still had the promise.

And so, “by faith Jacob, when dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, bowing in worship over the head of his staff” because, like his fathers before him, “he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God” (Heb. 11:21, 10).

The cups is always half full. Half full to overflowing. Because of the fullness of being in Christ, God’s blessed Son.

For all the promises of God find their Yes in Him. That is why it is through Him that we utter our Amen to God for His glory.

(2Corinthians 1:20 ESV)

Yes and amen!

By His grace. For His glory!

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