By the time we make it through Genesis to Chapter 43, we see that Judah has taken over the family’s leadership. The oldest of the brothers, Reuben, lost this role by attempting to usurp the leadership by sleeping with one of his father’s concubines. Even when he offered the life of his own sons as a pledge to his father to bring back Benjamin, Jacob would not concede to their demand. The next oldest, Simeon, remained in jail in Egypt. Levi, the next in line, carried the blame for the massacre at Shechem. That left Judah next in line, and he stepped up to the challenge. He reminded his father of the absolute necessity of taking Benjamin with them if they were ever to go back to Egypt for more food. It was either send Benjamin with his brothers or die of starvation along with the women and children in the camp. Finally, Jacob concedes. In Genesis 43:13-14, we read that Jacob says to Judah, “Take also your brother and arise, go again to the man. May God Almighty grant you mercy before the man, and may he send back your other brother and Benjamin. And as for me, if I am bereaved of my children, I am bereaved.”

“Let go and let God” has undoubtedly become a cliche in our Christian culture. But the need for that in my life is still evident in many ways. I’m a lot like Jacob – the one who contends with God – who wrestles with him to get his way. Notice he acknowledges God’s complete sovereignty by calling him “God Almighty.” He is the one who gives mercy and brings about the best in our lives. We need only surrender to His perfect will. He envisioned the worst-case scenario and said, “Let it be.” It’s like what Mary said to the angel when she was informed about the upcoming virgin birth of Jesus. The Beatles made her response famous in their song “Let it Be.” That was Mary’s response at the end of her dialogue with the angel in Luke 1:38, “And Mary said, ‘Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.’” John and Paul, the Beatles, not the Apostles, along with George and Ringo, sang, “When I find myself in times of trouble, Mother Mary comes to me, speaking words of wisdom: let it be.”

Jacob’s response wasn’t quite as commendable as that, though. Mary seems to have accepted her fate with a lot less attitude than Jacob did, and Mary only asked for the Angel to explain how she would have a son being a virgin which sounds like a reasonable question to me. On the other hand, Jacob argued with his sons and fought the inevitable for as long as he could before giving in to the words of his other sons. He even scolded Judah for telling the man in Egypt about the rest of their family: “Why have you treated me so ill,” was his response. I’m not even sure that there was any change in Jacob’s attitude in conceding the need for Benjamin to go to Egypt with his brothers. Vos says, “Finally Jacob bowed to the inevitable. But he took every step to guarantee the outcome. First, he arranged to send a gift for the governor, perhaps because protocol required it, or out of appreciation for the privilege of buying grain or to appease his wrath as he had sought to assuage Esau’s (32:13–21). During a famine, the ‘best products’ or ‘choice fruits’ of the land would be meager, but he could send a ‘little’ balm, gum, and myrrh—types of gum used especially for medicinal purposes and embalming—honey, pistachio nuts, and almonds. Second, he proposed open-faced honesty in financial dealings: returning the money found in their sacks and pleading a mistake in its being found there. Third, he acquiesced to the demand for Benjamin’s appearance. Fourth, he prayed for God’s blessing on the venture and resigned himself to the will of God.”1 Whatever your struggle. Imagine the worst-case scenario and tell God if that’s what he wants for you, that will be OK. The things that matter most in this life are indeed out of our hands. But we often strive and strain to control them anyway. How much better off we would be if indeed we could “let go and let God.”

1 Howard F. Vos, Genesis, Everyman’s Bible Commentary (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1982), 173.