Death and loss. Next into Joseph’s world came death and loss. In Genesis chapter 35. We see how Jacob cleaned out all the other idols that were in his household, but then shortly after that Rachel, Joseph’s mom, dies giving birth to his brother Benjamin. Later, some time after they arrive at the place where Jacob grew up, Jacob’s father Isaac dies as well. Joseph saw how Jacob dealt with disappointment and grief.
It came about as her soul was departing (for she died), that she named him Ben-oni; but his father called him Benjamin.
Genesis 35:18 NASB
As Rachel was dying, she gave her new son a name that reflected her self-centered way of thinking. Ben-oni means son of my suffering. What a legacy to pass down to a son from his mother! Jacob steps in and refuses to leave his name that way and changes it to Benjamin, or son of my right hand.
Even in the midst of the grief of losing his beloved wife, Jacob refused to make a long term decision based on something that was a temporary circumstance. Jacob’s pain and grief at losing Rachel was real and painful, but was temporary compared to what Jacob knew was his long-term relationship with God. As a result, Joseph saw his Dad remain focused on the promises of God instead of on his pain.
Where do we remain focused when going through tough times? Do we recognize what is temporary and what is eternal? How do our responses change when we consider this?