Everyone loves a good story, and central to a good story is conflict. Few best-sellers focus on the perfect day where everything works out. Romantic comedies end when the couple gets together because happy, stable relationships are fun to be in but boring to watch.
Yet, we can hesitate to share our own stories because they contain conflict or challenges. Our culture demands perfection, and we worry about what people will think. It is even worse at times in the church where it can seem like everyone else is always smiling and their lives are always “blessed.” We hear sermons about struggles, brokenness, and pain, but we are sup- posed to nod sympathetically in support of whomever the pastor is talking about—because it is surely not us.
Psalm 105 summarizes the story of God’s chosen people from the humble beginnings of a wandering family through the dramatic exodus from Egypt. Interestingly, the psalmist does not pull any punches. The history is a difficult one: homelessness, slavery, and abuse. When the people are not paying the price for their own poor choices—like selling a brother into slavery—the challenges often result from not being big and strong enough to stand up for themselves.
Many would deem this story embarrassing, but those who comprised the canon essentially put it in their greatest hits! They not only retell but celebrate the story. Why? Because in spite of their failures, the God who promised to look out for them kept that promise. Because even when a great and over- whelming challenge faced them, it was never too great for God.
The stories from our past that make us the most uncomfort- able may actually be our best source of hope for the future.
God, give us the courage to share our stories so that your faith- fulness in the past will give strength and hope for today and beyond. Amen.
The Genesis text begins the story of Joseph. Things would have turned out very different for Joseph (and for Israel) had it not been for the watchful care of the One who called Israel into being. Psalm 105 brie y recites the saving events in Israel’s life, and this week’s portion remembers the story of Joseph, stressing both the hiddenness and the crucial significance of God’s mercy. In Romans 10 note the manner in which Paul brings the past to bear on the present in terms of God’s saving activity. Notice also Paul’s insistence on the universal availability of salvation. The Gospel lesson of Jesus stilling the storm points to the inexplicable wonder of God’s redeeming love, which can be appropriated and answered only in doxology.
• Read Genesis 37:1-4, 12-28. The writer says, “Not all the challenges we face are a divine plan.” Do you agree or disagree? Why?
• Read Psalm 105:1-6, 16-22, 45b. How well does your memory serve you in times of distress to recall God’s presence and past action?• Read Romans 10:5-15. In what situations have you chosen to rely on God?
• Read Matthew 14:22-33. The writer says that comfort and safety should not be our “primary criteria when discerning and acting on God’s will.” Do you agree? Why or why not?
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