|Joseph Forgives His Brothers|
Joseph Reassures His Brothers
15 When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “Perhaps Joseph will hate us, and may actually repay us for all the evil which we did to him.” 16 So they sent messengers to Joseph, saying, “Before your father died he commanded, saying, 17 ‘Thus you shall say to Joseph: “I beg you, please forgive the trespass of your brothers and their sin; for they did evil to you.”’ Now, please, forgive the trespass of the servants of the God of your father.” And Joseph wept when they spoke to him.
18 Then his brothers also went and fell down before his face, and they said, “Behold, we are your servants.”
19 Joseph said to them, “Do not be afraid, for am I in the place of God? 20 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. 21 Now therefore, do not be afraid; I will provide for you and your little ones.” And he comforted them and spoke kindly to them.
joseph's brothers had good reason to be concerned. they pretty much deserved whatever was coming to them, at least from my point of view. but from a godly perspective, this is what total forgiveness is all about. joseph had never, not for one moment, forgotten the cruelty of his brothers, but his forgiveness was so complete, that it was his desire to help them, to provide for them, when they were down and out.
when people have hurt me deeply, it takes a while for the healing to take place, sometimes even after the forgiveness has already happened. joseph had many years for those wounds to heal, and when his brothers came before him, those wounds opened back up, and he wept, on more than one occasion. (why does the word "wept" sound more palatable and masculine when talking about a guy? if it had been a woman, she'd have just cried!)
but even though those emotions still needed to be expressed, God was faithful to bring about total forgiveness and complete healing from the past. i've been in joseph's shoes! hard to imagine that all these thousands of years later, i could actually experience the same thing that one of the biblical patriarchs experienced. am i in a place now where, if it were necessary, could i be so gracious to those who have hurt me in my lifetime?
yes, i believe so. i can't think of anyone off the top of my head whom i would even hesitate to help, no matter what the history was.
Father, i thank you for all the times you have heard me cry out, and have healed my broken heart. sometimes forgiveness comes a little slow on my end, and it takes a lot of work to allow you to forgive through me, and in the future, Lord, i hope you will help me to get my pride out of the way a little quicker! there is such freedom in forgiveness!