How easy is it to forgive someone? If we are honest, we all struggle with it. But the Word of God gives us a lot of insight into how to process these things.
Joseph - A Man Injured By His Brothers
Joseph was just another one of Jacob's sons. Yet, God had given Joseph a special ability and that really irritated his brothers. So we see them come up with this plan in Genesis 37 to kill him and throw him into a cistern. Thankfully Reuben had a little more sense than that and he talked them into just throwing them into the cistern and leaving him there. So they throw him into the cistern and then they sit there and eat their lunch! I mean, can you imagine what kind of strange scene that might have been. How do you enjoy your sandwich when your brother is down in a hole yelling for help? They then end up selling their brother as a slave to Egypt and then telling their father that he is dead.
Fast forward now and Joseph has been given a position of power in Egypt. He actually ends up being in a place to inflict harm on his brothers who have come looking for food in a terrible famine. It was his chance to get revenge. But what does he do? He forgives them.
Forgiving Does Not Mean Forgetting
Genesis 45:2 says that Joseph wept so loudly in this moment that everyone heard him. This was the heart of a man who saw his brothers, loved his brothers, but felt the pain of what had taken place. It hurt him deeply. And yet he decided that he was not going to hurt them.
The Pain is Shared
Let's be honest. Just because I said that mean thing or did that in anger, it does not mean I am free and clear of the pain. The pain is shared. It doesn't matter who you are, if you have been on the side of the offender, you have been hurt by it also. I have no doubt in my mind that at some point his brothers kind of said to each other "hey, you know I kind of feel bad about that." We have all been there. So when Joseph starts weeping it makes these guys panic. What is he going to do? Will he hurt us? No. Instead they embrace each other in this beautiful picture of forgiveness and the grace of God!
Joseph Recognized God's Hand In The Pain
He said that despite what they had hoped to accomplish in seeing him sold off, God had accomplished his good purposes. His pain was used to save lives, ironically even their lives. That is really hard to see in the moment, but what a beautiful mess it really is when we get that.
The Past Is The Past
After he sends them back to get their father he gives them instructions. Do not fight on the way back. I love that because I know I would probably want to have a conversation about who was more at fault in the whole thing. It is never my idea, is it? But Joseph is telling them to forget about all of that and just go get dad. Do not go back in the past. Let's move ahead.
Look to Jesus Christ
This makes us look to Jesus Christ again because he was rejected, sold off and beaten. He was betrayed in the most cruel ways. We rebelled and put him on that cross. Yet, he is willing to forgive us which saves us from our own mess. What a wonderful Savior! He is willing to send out sins far away and restore our relationship with God.
Oh, God, help us all to be just as kind to other people who wrong us. It hurts us for sure, but Jesus Christ is able to help us in it. If you are struggling to forgive, look to Jesus Christ. It is not easy at all, but He understands fully and is able to help.
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