Psalm 77:2 – My soul refused to be comforted.
Can you relate to this verse written by the Psalmist in Chapter 77? Have you ever been in such a dark place that you refuse to be comforted by anything or anyone?
One biblical character that clearly displayed such deep grief and sorrow was Jacob after he was tricked into believing that his beloved son Joseph had been devoured by a wild beast.
In Genesis 37:33-35, we capture the moment when Jacob was catapulted into an abyss of grief and sorrow that almost seemed excessive. He resolved to mourn Joseph’s death until the day he died! Why was his grief so deep? I believe that the answer lies beyond just the fact that Joseph was his favourite son. This was more than mere favouritism or fondness. There was something deeply spiritual about this grief.
Jacob was a father with prophetic insight into his children’s destinies. By the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, we see Jacob prophesying with uncanny precision into the future destinies of all his sons in Genesis 48 and 49. By logical deduction, it will be safe to suffice that Jacob sensed that there was great prophetic destiny resting on the shoulders of his dear son Joseph.
He knew by prophetic impressions of the Holy Spirit that there was something extra special about his son Joseph so when it was reported that he had been killed, it was near impossible to Jacob to reconcile all of this.
Here lies the crux of the matter. It is deeply painful to allow oneself to be guided and led against all odds by what they believe to be the impressions of the Holy Spirit towards a longstanding promise, only to turn around and find that the promise has been snuffed out or unfairly taken away. Such disappointments produce a mix of grief and perplexity so overwhelming that some permanently distrust God and turn away from Him for apparently letting them down. I don’t know what the dynamics of Jacob’s relationship with God was during this dark time but he refused to be comforted by those around him for 22 years!
I have personally faced such overwhelming grief and perplexity when I experienced such a disappointment. I refused to be consoled or comforted by anyone. I was so angry at God that my heart began to harden against Him and those I felt played a role in denying me God’s promise to me.
Do you know what its like to have a thousand voices try to talk you into accepting a lesser settlement than the very best of God’s complete promise? Have you found yourself ‘dumbing down’ God’s promises just so its a little more realistic or easier to achieve? If you are then I beg you to refuse second best. Don’t try to help God by lowering your expectations of Him. If it is His will, you can still trust Him for a miracle. Refuse to be comforted by anything less than the fullness of His promised deliverance, healing, breakthrough, reconciliation, provision or whatever else you’re trusting Him for.
We hear nothing of Jacob during the 22 years he refused to be comforted concerning Joseph’s death. Remember that at the point when Joseph was sold into slavery, Jacob was already 108 years old. He was already a mature father in the faith. He had wrestled with God and had his name changed to Israel. He had paid his vows to God and overcome serious challenges with God’s help. What I’m trying to say is that we shouldn’t necessarily attribute a season of soul darkness to spiritual immaturity. Sometimes God simply turns off the light switches in order to write a better story that will produce a greater testimony, strengthen many people’s faiths and glorify His name.
But what kept this old legend of the faith from completely giving up when a serious famine threatened to wipe out his family and an Egyptian governor (Joseph) had insisted on holding his two sons Simeon and Benjamin? It was the covenant he made with God at Schechem over 30 years before that point in time. That was when Jacob asked God to be his God. Jacob drew strength from the faithfulness of God. In the midst of the darkness, do you have a personal covenant with God that you can draw strength from? He was able to surrender everything to God in Genesis 43:11-14.
When his sons returned from Egypt and told him that Joseph was still alive, it was too much for Jacob to process. A promise he thought had been cruelly taken away from him for the past 22 years had suddenly come back to life. Genesis 45:26. Talk about the goodness and faithfulness of God. Jacob was being restored beyond his wildest imaginations. Despite his trials and tribulations, Jacob finished strong. He ended up establishing his family in the safety and abundance of Goshen in Egypt; he blessed Pharaoh, the most powerful man in the universe at the time; and he received a burial fit for a king.
Psalm 146:5 says, “Happy is he who has the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the Lord his God.”
Hebrews 11:21 – By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, and worshipped, leaning on top of his staff.
I will finish by drawing your attention to the staff used by shepherds of old like Jacob. They would usually inscribe symbols on them to mark significant moments in their lives. Jacob’s staff was a journal of his key life moments. At the very end of his life, he leaned on his staff and worshipped the God who had written such a beautiful story with his life. Would you say he was comforted in the end? I would.
May Jacob’s story steel your resolve to serve God even through the darkest times of the soul. Serve Him through those moments where you refuse to be comforted. Serve Him even when it seems His promises to you have been broken. Like Joseph, you too will stand and worship Him at the end of your days, when His goodness and faithfulness will comfort you. Lord open our eyes to see the big picture of the story You’re writing with our lives.