The story of Joseph is amazing. It's been popularized and plagiarized to the point I think it has lost its power to some of us. But I really relate to this guy. And I want my life to shine with the example his did.
Starting in Genesis 37, Moses recounts the coming-of-age story of Joseph. Long story short, this boy could not catch a break! He was gifted and despised for it. He was betrayed and left for dead by his own family. He was sold as an object, taken to a place where he knew no one and no one knew him, thrown in jail for trying to do the right thing, abandoned by someone who promised to help him, ignored, displaced, and then asked to help the very brothers that had so badly mistreated him.
There are plenty of counts that prove Joseph's humanity. He wasn't some noble, arrogant, shoo-in for the throne of some foreign country. He was deeply emotional, deeply intuitive, and deeply in love with his God. The part of the story we read today is one of my favorite promises in the Bible.
Joseph is placed in a position of incredible power. He had the ability, motivation, and clout to have his entire family executed. And frankly, his brothers were afraid of him.
They come to him, begging his forgiveness.
I stop here and think, because of the pain in my own heart toward certain people. And I have forgiven them as an act of obedience to God, but the wounds in my soul are harder to heal. Honestly, I think that's ok! I think it's normal. I have to constantly pray for God's heart toward someone... to see them through His eyes. And I know the emotions will follow. Forgiveness does not mean it's "alright". It does not mean forgetting. Forgiveness means that I have forfeited the right to revenge (and eye for an eye), and given the power of justice back to my heavenly Father, trusting that He will make everything "alright" in the end. And that's exactly what Joseph did here.
Genesis 50:18-20 "His brothers then came and threw themselves down before him. "We are your slaves," they said. But Joseph said to them, "Don't be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives."
After all he'd been through, Joseph recognized the sovereignty of God over his life. The story of God does not begin and end with me. It just doesn't. The story of God is an epic that plays out over eternity, and my role is what it is, even if it means that God has to take something heinous and turn it out for the good of "saving many lives".
The word "sovereignty" is big for me. When I don't understand, and I want to ask God "why?!", I know that He knows the answers, and He is in control. And that only works if I understand His heart and His intentions toward me. The story of Joseph is an awesome example of life just smacking... and God's intentions in the midst.
What do you think God's intentions are? Do you really believe that He is good? Really?
Do my own words hold more meaning because you know that I have greatly suffered?