Genesis Day 63: Learning to say Thank You…as an Adult
My wife has taught me a few things: things you might have thought I would already have known!
One big one was to simply accept a gift or compliment, and say thank you.
She observed that whenever a gift or compliment came my way, I would defer, deflect, or even disagree.
I will spare you the psychological analysis of why, and simply say she was right. Calming all the thoughts in my mind in those moments when grace was sent may way—and simply receiving it—changed me.
Why do I bring this up?
Because in this section of Genesis there is grace…can you see it?
In my post on Genesis 42 I wrote, “I am not sure why he returned their money. Was it to further entrap them?” We get the answer in Genesis 43.
When Joseph’s brothers are brought to his home, they panic over the money they found in their sacks. Notice, however, in verse 23, what Joseph’s servant says: “Peace to you, do not be afraid. Your God and the God of your father has put treasure in your sacks for you. I received your money.”
The money was put back as a gift.
I understand family dynamics, in general, are tricky to navigate. Throw in a little detail like selling your brother into slavery, and then lie about it, and, well, the word tricky doesn’t begin to describe the situation.
We read from chapter 42, verse 35, through the first 22 verses of chapter 43, how, instead of saying thank you, fear dominates the brothers.
Now, I don’t want to be naïve. Perhaps they should have been suspicious. Yet, I am left to wonder: why, when they found the money, didn’t they simply turn around, and go and try give the money back? (Especially because Simeon, their brother, was left hanging in the balance!)
Instead they waited and worried and wrestled with the situation. In fact, it was not until they were again facing starvation, that they returned to face the music.
Certainly, from their perspective, “the man” (Joseph) was rough with them, probing them with all sorts of questions.
From Joseph’s perspective, he was not sure how this band of brothers, who threw him in the pit, would respond if they knew he was indeed the man they had sold into slavery. Plus, he wanted to know if his father (the man who gave him the beautiful coat of many colors) was alive. He wanted to know if his brother Benjamin was alive. Why Benjamin? The youngest of the brothers, he and Joseph were Jacob’s only sons with Rachel, who had died giving birth to Benjamin. Benjamin was the last living reminder of his mother.
So yes, family dynamics are tricky.
But sometimes we over-complicate grace.
Grace abounds in this story.
I expect there were many places where Joseph’s team was selling grain. I expect there were days Joseph was not present at the place of sale. Yet on the day his brothers rode into town, God had orchestrated that Joseph would see them—that is grace.
His joy to see them, to learn of his father and Benjamin, did it lead to his generosity? I am not sure. What is clear, is from the brother’s perspective, regardless the reason—it is all grace.
Yet their unrepented sin, wrapped in a lie, fueled their guilt, paranoia, and fear.
In essence, they believed they did not deserve this gift—this grace—therefore they could not see it.
Let me just slow myself down and try and make this point: the words grace and deserve should not appear in the same sentence. When we are given a gift, it is not because we deserve it. Perhaps on our birthdays, at Christmas, and other occasions, we expect gifts. Perhaps we think we are due gifts, even deserve them.
But if we think this way, then we have lost the idea of the gift of grace.
I had lost that idea. I thought I needed to earn the compliment. When a complement or gift was offered, I would (in a matter of nano-seconds) get all bollixed up as to whether I really deserved it. In the end, it was easier to fall into the habit of defer, deflect, or disagree.
Here is an even more frightening thought: picture the moments I thought I did deserve it, and still did not receive it.
Receiving His grace, in small and large doses, begins with saying thank you. You might think “thank you” are just words. They are—and words have power. These words re-route your thoughts from fear and worry, to gratitude.
Thank you opens a path where, a shower of favor washes upon us (deserved or un-deserved). We call this grace.
Thank you opens a heart. A heart needs to be open for God to enter. Sometimes it is broken open. Other times it is opened with love. However it happens, when God enters your heart, it is the best thing.