January 31, 2008
A HORIZONTAL VIEWPOINT
by Charles R. Swindoll
Read Genesis 42:29-38
When Jacob learned what had happened, the old gentleman shriveled in fear. Rather than saying, "Thank God, He is at work. Men, He loves us and watches over us. In His care we are all safe," he responded negatively and horizontaIly.
His sons had not only returned with the food they needed, but also with all of their money. They had been given grain from Egypt free of charge. All the prime minister had asked was that they prove they were not spies by returning with their youngest brother and claiming Simeon who had been left as a hostage. Yet Jacob saw none of this as God's provision. He froze in fear and focused on a worst-case scenario.
As soon as he heard they had left their brother in Egypt, he jumped to the conclusion that Simeon was dead. "Joseph is dead. Simeon is dead. Everything is against me," he moaned. He began to sound paranoid and self-pitying. "All these things are against me!"
Last time I checked, Jacob was supposed to be the patriarch of the clan, the spiritual leader. Yet, with a quick glance behind the scenes, as we sneak a peek through the back door of the tent, we see Jacob as he really is.
It's one thing for us to sit with book in hand and read the story, knowing what the outcome will be, and say with a shrug, "I'll tell you this, I sure wouldn't have done that. I would have trusted God if I had been in that situation." But would you really? Well, then why didn't you trust Him last week? What was it that kept you from seeing God's hand in that matter you couldn't handle last month? Call to mind your most recent major test. Did you rest calmly in Him? Or did you push the panic button out of fear?
Negative thinking. A horizontal viewpoint. A closed mind to something that is unexpected and new. That's why we tend to panic. Because, humanly speaking, you and I have been programmed toward defeat. We have formed habits of response that leave God out of the picture. We don't actually announce it in those words, we just model it and rationalize around it by calling it something else. And aren't we relieved God didn't put our biography into print?
Reprinted by permission. Day by Day, Charles Swindoll, July 2005, Thomas Nelson, inc., Nashville, Tennessee. All rights reserved. Purchase "Day by Day" here.