Genesis 42:26-38 God appoints calamities for seasons of self-reflection and reconciliation

26 So they loaded their donkeys with their grain and departed from there. 27 As one of them opened his sack to give his donkey fodder at the lodging place, he saw his money; and behold, it was in the mouth of his sack. 28 Then he said to his brothers, “My money has been returned, and behold, it is even in my sack.” And their hearts sank, and they turned trembling to one another, saying, “What is this that God has done to us?”

29 When they came to their father Jacob in the land of Canaan, they told him all that had happened to them, saying, 30 “The man, the lord of the land, spoke harshly with us, and took us for spies of the country. 31 But we said to him, ‘We are honest men; we are not spies. 32 We are twelve brothers, sons of our father; one is no longer alive, and the youngest is with our father today in the land of Canaan.’ 33 The man, the lord of the land, said to us, ‘By this I will know that you are honest men: leave one of your brothers with me and take grain for the famine of your households, and go. 34 But bring your youngest brother to me that I may know that you are not spies, but honest men. I will give your brother to you, and you may trade in the land.’”

35 Now it came about as they were emptying their sacks, that behold, every man’s bundle of money was in his sack; and when they and their father saw their bundles of money, they were dismayed. 36 Their father Jacob said to them, “You have bereaved me of my children: Joseph is no more, and Simeon is no more, and you would take Benjamin; all these things are against me.” 37 Then Reuben spoke to his father, saying, “You may put my two sons to death if I do not bring him back to you; put him in my care, and I will return him to you.” 38 But Jacob said, “My son shall not go down with you; for his brother is dead, and he alone is left. If harm should befall him on the journey you are taking, then you will bring my gray hair down to Sheol in sorrow.”


The threat of death, and the agony of delivering bad news to their aging and despondent father set the brothers on edge. Calamities exacerbate self-reflection and promote penitence. Calamities also work in fostering forbearance and unity in the community. Before God can use Jacob’s family for a holy legacy, they must first be sanctified and be reconciled to one another. Therefore, God appoints cycles of calamities for seasons of repentance and reconciliation. It is through seasons of calamities that people grow in purity and love to leave an enduring legacy.


“My money has been returned, and behold, it is even in my sack.”

Simeon remained incarcerated while the rest of Jacob’s sons made their way back home. When they were at a lodging place, one of them found grain money in his sack. However, it did not occur to them to check the rest of their sacks until they reached home. Nevertheless, their heart sank as it appeared that they were pilfering and dishonest. Their thoughts raced as they trembled at what mess they have gotten themselves into. Here, the brothers came to a heartfelt acknowledgment that divine retribution has alas come upon them: “What is this that God has done to us?” Their conscience being aroused, they were forced to reckon with the misdeeds of their past.

Now it came about as they were emptying their sacks, that behold, every man’s bundle of money was in his sack.

The brothers banded together as one man to convince their father against the odds that all will be well. They told Jacob everything except the part that some money was found in one of the brother’s sack. Up to this point, Jacob was probably not overly worried. But when the rest of the money came to light as they were emptying their sacks, they were shell shocked. No one dared imagine what consequences await when they return. The discounted account of their trip to Egypt that was meant to allay Jacob’s fears had left him more despondent than ever. Jacob’s outburst clarified the situation as it stood. For Jacob, serving up Benjamin in exchange for Simeon presented unacceptable risks. As it seemed, Jacob was prepared to let Simeon go than to allow anyone to return to Egypt.

Reuben’s proposal was ludicrous as it was poorly thought out for how would killing Jacob’s grandsons alleviate the situation? That said, Jacob’s remarks concerning Benjamin albeit derogatory to the rest showed the depth of the brother’s forbearance and maturity. Here, despite their father’s incessant favouritism, the brothers were seen coming together in unity, each contributing their level best towards a workable solution.


God appoints calamities for seasons of self-reflection and reconciliation

When food was close to running out, instead of working together towards a common course, the brothers were staring at one another (see Genesis 42:1). They also harboured a guilty conscience refusing to come to terms with their hidden past. Such was the state of the holy family, fragmented and dysfunctional. For they were each estranged from God and from one another.

It took a famine and Joseph’s harsh treatment to heal the fractured family and cause them to reflect upon their past misdeeds. Calamity has an uncanny effect in inducing self-reflection towards repentance. It heals the fractures of distrust and dissension reconciling the family to God.

God appoints calamities for seasons of self-reflection. When we are faced with an inextricable situation, it is time for self-reflection as individuals and as a community. Calamity is a form of divine discipline that forces us to confront our darkest secrets. Until we come to realise our transgressions, and to acknowledge them in humility, there will be no reprieve. Indeed, the pain and discomfort of calamities push us towards holiness resulting in a more glorious existence. Therefore, in times of calamity, we must not resort to complaining but understand what God is telling us. However, what hinders self-reflection is pride and denial. Pride refuses to acknowledge the severity of one’s own sin while trivialising it with all kinds of excuses. On the other hand, those in denial suppose they are already perfected in Christ and hence, need no repentance.

God appoints calamities for seasons of reconciliation. Calamity forces us to depend on one another for solace and security. It is here that conflicts of interest give way to interdependency, and personal wellbeing to wellbeing of the whole. Calamity works effectively in breaking fixation on self and by uniting all towards the common good. Calamity causes people to reexamine the price of enmity and unforgiveness against the greater benefit of reconciliation. It also helps people look past their differences to appreciate the beauty and strength of diversity.

That said, calamity can make or break a family or community. Some out of selfish reasons may choose to leave preferring to venture out alone. To their credit, Jacob’s sons remained united throughout the ordeal. Where once they were staring at one another, they now give themselves sacrificially towards a common good. Truly, the holy family has emerged more united and sanctified from the crucible of famine and death.


Are you experiencing a kind of calamity in your family or community? Sicknesses, and financial troubles are but seasons for repentance and reconciliation. Take time to reflect on the following:

a. Have I been haughty and blind to my own weaknesses?

b. Am I open to feedback and criticisms?

c. Do I take time to reflect on myself in the light of the word and feedback from others?

c. Am I easily taken in by popular prejudices against some people?

d. Am I accustomed to deflecting blame from myself when something goes wrong?

e. Am I more inclined to seeing people’s weaknesses or strengths?

f. Am I inclined to making people feel welcomed regardless of their personality, background, age or race?

g. As love is always believing… Do I readily forgive believing that change comes from making mistakes and actively learning from them?

Dear Lord, I desire to be more open to your instructions and to the feedback of others so that I may grow. I am thankful that even in my weaknesses, I am considered a beloved son of your family. In whatever circumstances, use me to speak truth and grace, and to unite the community towards a brighter future. In Jesus’s name I pray. Amen.

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