then they loaded their donkeys with their grain and departed. and as one of them opened his sack to give his donkey fodder at the lodging place, he saw his money in the mouth of his sack. he said to his brothers, “my money has been put back; here it is in the mouth of my sack!” at this their hearts failed them, and they turned trembling to one another, saying, “what is this that God has done to us?” [genesis 42:26-28]


i get pretty pumped when i find a $10 in my seat cushions. so when the brothers find this money returned to them, why do their hearts fail them?

when they eventually return to joseph with the money they discovered, the scriptures describe what the brothers feared:

and the men were afraid because they were brought to joseph’s house, and they said, “it is because of the money, which was replaced in our sacks the first time, that we are brought in, so that he may assault us and fall upon us to make us servants and seize our donkeys.” [genesis 43:18]

even if they were innocent, having the king’s money could render them a lifetime of punishment.

and their first instinct is to question God about it.

“what is this that God has done to us?”

the way that this question is phrased indicates that the brothers are the victims, and it puts God’s character on trial. but they recognized just a few verses earlier that they are responsible for joseph’s supposed death. in all transparency, God had every right to take their lives for their sin. their trembling about a potential outcome of their sin is causing them to question God’s character.

what they could have asked instead is, “what is this that we have done against God?”

evil actions have consequences. instead of taking the offensive against God, crying out, “what is this that you have done to me, God?” maybe we should accept God’s invitation to sit at the Lord’s feet and repent, taking a deeper look into our poor heart postures and sins that cause these consequences.

the Lord spoke to judah through the prophet isaiah many years after this, saying, 

for thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of israel,

“in returning and rest you shall be saved;

    in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.”

but you were unwilling, and you said, “no! we will flee upon horses…” 

[isaiah 30:15-16a]


friends, let us not flee upon our horses, running to other things to divert our attention. let us press into our sinful hearts, for a gracious God waits to show us mercy.

in the same chapter of isaiah, isaiah writes:

“therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you,

    and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you.

for the Lord is a God of justice;

    blessed are all those who wait for him.”

[isaiah 30:18]


today is our opportunity to wait upon him. to sit with him. to confess our sins and receive the blessing of God’s mercy. instead of merely focusing on the outcome of the consequences, let’s engage in heart work with the Lord!

~ jm