If you look back at the previous chapters in Genesis you will read that Joseph’s brothers had come to Egypt for food because of the great famine in the land. He had interacted with them without them knowing who he was, but at this point, he could no longer hold back. He shared his true identity and his brothers were terrified! I’m sure that they feared for their lives, but what they got from Joseph instead was a picture of grace and forgiveness.
Joseph was able to see God in his circumstances and knew that God had allowed him to be taken into captivity for a greater purpose. The pain and loss that he suffered could have caused him to be bitter and rage against God, but Joseph had faith that somehow God would work things out for his good. Joseph would now be able to save the lives of his brothers and father because of the position of power that he had been given.
Life is hard and no one escapes pain and rough things. Our circumstances may not be as dramatic as Joseph’s, but we still have a choice of how we will respond to the hard things. Each day I have a choice to trust that God can take anything and make something beautiful out of it, or to become bitter and harden my heart.
We also have a choice about how we will respond to people that have hurt us. The world says Joseph would be completely justified if he had had his brothers imprisoned or even killed for the horrible evil they had done to him. He certainly was powerful enough to do that, but he didn’t. Joseph had not allowed his pain to turn into bitterness. He was emotional when he saw his brothers because he remembered the pain of their abuse, but he still chose forgiveness. Forgiveness doesn’t mean that we forget, it means that we choose to stop allowing the pain to have control over us. We can sometimes refuse to forgive because we feel like it’s saying that what was done was o.k., but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Forgiveness is not condoning or excusing what was done, it’s saying that I’m not going to allow the hurt and pain to continue to have power and destroy me. The person that will be impacted most by your forgiveness is you.
Jesus tells us to forgive because there’s freedom in it. Do you need the freedom that forgiveness can bring in your life today? Talk to Jesus about it and begin the process of letting it go. You won’t regret it.
Director of Small Group Ministry
New Hope Church