A Digital Refresh – April 19, 2020: The Wrong Question

Mini-Yo-We

Today’s reflection is from Peter Berg. Peter is our facility manager and on any given day can be found diligently caring for our site. 

Today’s Reading: Genesis 42-45

Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”

-Hebrews 13:5

I’m a fan of action movies.

One of my favourites is a futuristic movie called “I, Robot”, starring Will Smith. In the movie, he plays a detective who is investigating the death of a scientist. The scientist himself appears in the movie as a hologram, generated by a pocket projection device that he finds early in the movie. And because this is the future, the hologram is programmed to interact with the detective, much like a chatbot on a web site.

Now, it’s not a person, so Will Smith often asks it questions to which it answers, “I’m sorry, my responses are limited. You must ask the right question.”

Joseph’s Story

In Genesis chapters 42-45: we read the story of Joseph’s brothers going to Egypt to buy food in a time of famine. They don’t recognize Joseph, whom they sold into slavery and who is now second in command over the entire country. Joseph recognizes his brothers (actually his half-brothers) and asks questions about their family. They tell him they are all brothers, and they had an additional brother who died and one more at home. Joseph calls them spies and detains them. Soon, Joseph sends them home with a chance to prove their innocence: They must bring the remaining brother back to Egypt with them. He keeps Simeon behind and they go back to their father.

When he hears what has happened, Jacob, their father is dismayed. He has already lost one favourite son to death (so he thinks), another to captivity, and his youngest son is now in danger of being lost to him as well!

Gen. 34:37 Their father Jacob said to them, “You have deprived me of my children. Joseph is no more and Simeon is no more, and now you want to take Benjamin. Everything is against me!”

I think this story is important to us in this time of fear and tragedy throughout the world.

It can feel like everything is spinning out of control, and that life is just one painful blow after another. At times like this, we often ask God “Why is this happening?”

Which may be exactly the wrong question. The “why” question is almost always a trap because it’s a question born in doubt. It roughly translates to “Why are you doing this to me?”, to which we supply possible answers: Do you not love me? Have you forgotten your promises to me? Did you lie to me about rewarding me for living for you? Is this just out of your control? Are you not good after all?

In the story of Joseph, we know that God is working in ways Jacob can’t imagine, to preserve and protect him, and ultimately to make him and his family into a great nation and God’s very own people, through whom Messiah will one day come. He is indeed following through on his promise and advancing the story for the long term, to care for and bless Jacob and to bless the world through him. (Gen 28:10-15)

God is doing the same for you right now.

He is following through on all the promises he has made. He will never leave you or forsake you. (Heb 13:5) He will provide for your needs. (Ps 111:5) Most of all, he continues to work in everything for good (Rom. 8:28) and to continue the work he began in you toward completion. (Php 1:6).

Perhaps a better question, then, is “How can I follow you today, in the midst of this?” Rarely does the Bible contain answers as to why things happen to us. It’s not that God is mocking us, or ignoring us, and it’s certainly not that he is limited in his responses. God is at work in everyone, collectively and individually, at once. He longs to call everyone to himself and remake us in his likeness.

In the movie, when the hologram baulks at one of his questions, Will Smith reconsiders and asks differently, for the hologram is designed to guide him to where to look to solve the mystery behind the scientist’s death. When he asks the question that leads him to the next clue to what is going on behind the scenes, the hologram smiles, and replies, “That, Detective, is the right question!” I pray that God will guide you to pursue the right questions, the questions born of faith, as you walk with him in this challenging time and that you will see him faithfully at work in and around you each day.

Yours,

Peter

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A Digital Refresh is a regular series for the staff at Mini-Yo-We.
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