If you've ever lost a parent, you know how gut-wrenching it is. My book Gathering Bittersweet begins with the main character, Rachel, losing her father. I wrote that chapter right after losing my own father, so the emotions I felt bled onto the page pretty easily.
As I was reading through Genesis, I thought about what it was like for Joseph to lose his father, Jacob. This passage makes it clear that he was full of grief:
“When Jacob finished commanding his sons, he drew up his feet into the bed and breathed his last and was gathered to his people. Then Joseph fell on his father’s face and wept over him and kissed him.” Genesis 49:33-50:1 ESV
We can only imagine how difficult it was for Joseph when Jacob died. He’d found his father after a lifetime away from him, and now Joseph was losing him again. It must have been heart wrenching. But there is more going on here than an emotional goodbye to a patriarch.
Earlier in chapter 49, Jacob makes Joseph promise him that he will be buried in Canaan, not Egypt. This was not just a nostalgic whim of an old man. It was a man resolute in clinging to a promise God had made to him and his family many years before.
Jacob had confidence that his family would eventually return to the Promised Land. Not only that, he trusted God that it would become their land—Israel—no longer called the land of Canaan. He had no way of knowing it would be centuries before that happened, but we know it eventually did. We see through Jacob’s legacy that he kept God’s promise alive for his sons, who in turn kept it alive for their descendants. Jacob taught his children to be faithful and hopeful, from generation to generation.
I think a lot about the heritage I'm passing onto my family. I try to let them know how God is working in my life. I share the promises from God I need to cling to as I battle my own weaknesses and disappointments.
Take time to think about what your kids are seeing of your faith. Do they see only that you are frazzled and frustrated? Take them a step further and let them see you as you humble yourself before God and admit that you need his help. It will be a pattern they will hopefully adopt as well.