Read Genesis 45:1-28
“But his brothers were not able to answer him, because they were terrified at his presence” (v. 3).
With one fell swoop, Joseph’s God-enabled mercy drew his estranged brothers near and proclaimed God’s goodness, His shameless forgiveness, to every last one of his perpetrators. “(D)o not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you . . . it was not you who sent me here, but God” (vv. 5,8).
It’s difficult to write about God’s hand in the discussion of such enormous injustice. It brings up questions my mind can’t answer, a certain defensiveness that wants to protect my God’s reputation, His absolute justice and His perfect grace. Questions like, “Why would God purpose such evil?” And “When someone has suffered at the hand of another, did God make it happen?” I can’t fathom the richness of God’s sovereignty and His unspeakable compassion and grace at the same time.
Still, here is what I know: God did not throw Joseph into that well way back in Shechem; Joseph’s brothers did that because they hated him. God saved his life and sent him to Egypt. And now, here all of them were, at the tender and undeserved mercy of God’s sovereign and unfathomable grace. Joseph on one end, his brothers on the other.
I believe it was Joseph’s clear perception of God’s goodness, even through 13 years of suffering, and then nine more years, which led to this exact moment in this story of Israel. Joseph came out on the other side of the suffering holding God’s hand tightly, realizing that His was the only hand worthy of such trust. Sovereign God is good. Always.
The ruler of Egypt, second only to Pharaoh, had bowed his heart and given his life over to Almighty God’s plan. If Joseph had not forgiven his brothers, if he hadn’t recognized God’s hand, his family would have surely died from the effects of the famine. Israel’s promise and Abraham’s promise, would have been lost in the wind.
But Joseph recognized who had given him the power and acted out what only God could give him the power to do — forgive beyond measure.
Such power to forgive is ours as well, if we are willing to trust God’s hand like Joseph did.