I have been pondering more of the life of Joseph and am so struck by this powerful portrait of forgiveness.
Joseph had many years to relive, remember and recount the story of his brother’s abominable act of betrayal, which included throwing him in a pit and then selling him to slave traders.
Yet, many years later,
AFTER Joseph has risen from slave to servant in Potipher’s house;
and AFTER he was falsely accused of inappropriate behavior towards Potipher’s wife and thrown in prison for it,
And way AFTER he was forgotten there for years,
and then AFTER he was remembered because Pharaoh had a nagging dream and needed an interpreter,
Then finally, AFTER God gives Joseph the dream to interpret and Pharaoh raises him to second in all the land of Egypt......Then, yes then, when his brothers appear in Egypt to seek bread due to a famine in their homeland, Joseph is remarkably not a bit....bitter.
Rather, he is so overcome with love and longing for this rag tag bunch that he has to leave the room to contain himself.
In place of the cold shoulder he embraces.
Instead of revenge Joseph blesses.
Instead of recalling all their legitimate offenses, he redirects them to God’s provision in spite of their actions.
Joseph’s hardships had brought him to a place where he could do the most good for others.
Even those who wronged him.
Because of his position, Joseph is able to bring the whole family down to Egypt and provide for them there with Pharaoh’s blessings.
After his father, Israel (Jacob) dies, the brothers become worried that now that he is gone, Joseph will take revenge on them.
Listen to his response to their concerns:
“Joseph said to them, “Do not be afraid, for am I in the place of God? But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive. Now therefore, do not be afraid; I will provide for you and your little ones.” And he comforted them and spoke kindly to them.”
They say the heart never forgets.
Perhaps there’s is a person you think of often and wish things were right with.
A regret that has festered into a wound.
Maybe there were unkind words said or actions done. Or even far greater wounds were inflicted.
I know not all relationships can or should be restored.
But, Joseph’s life holds out a promise of hope and a lighter load for all who are willing to turn the key in the lock that has kept them imprisoned.
1. Acknowledge the offense.
Joseph says of his brothers, “....you meant evil against me”
Wow. No sugar coating or excuses made here! They did! And maybe the person who hurt you did too...
Go on. Say it. Say it loudly if you need to! They hurt me!! It hurt! Tell the Lord all about it.
To deal with an infliction you have to first go to the source of the pain; but, it is imperative not to stay there! Quickly..move on to the next step!
2.Let God be God.
Joseph’s question , “..am I in the place of God?”, demands the obvious answer for all of us,- “No, we are not in the place of God.”
God sees everything. Everything. Every heart, every motive, every intent. He is the Just Judge. Forgive and trust Him to take care of the rest.
3.KNOW that God is good.
Joseph’s conclusion is the key to not becoming bitter ”..God meant it for good.”
Can God take really bad situations and make really good things come out of them? Joseph’s experience shouts a resounding, “YES!” And He can for you and me too. As a matter of fact, it’s His specialty!
The past itself can be a chain that we need loosed. To not let it keep us from experiencing God’s new blessings, we must do as one of my friend says in her New York accent, “Fahget about it!!”
The apostle Paul elaborates:
“Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead,...”
Today is a new day! What good things could be ahead for you and me..... today? I’m excited to hear, trusting with you that again, He is working all things together for His good!
*Today, finds me back on the medicine, which I began taking last night at half strength.
Praying for minimal and manageable side effects!
This is the song in my head for today..:) Listen and be blessed!