Read Genesis 50:15-21
The older we get, the more life experiences we acquire. Some are successes, giving us great memories of achievements when an outcome went better than expected. Others are failures, providing a more vivid and sometimes painful recollection of a time/event that left us scarred. The common thread is that both events are points in our lives that develop us, based on how we respond, into the person we are and will become.
Joseph had one of those very painful experiences when his brothers sold him into slavery as a young man. His brothers were so jealous of the favoritism shown to him by their father that they wanted him out of the picture by any means. Having family that disliked Joseph so much to sell him into slavery had to have left strong feelings of confusion and despair with Joseph. This event in Joseph’s life set him onto a path that would eventually lead to a position of success. However, many years later, the tables were completely turned when Joseph had to address those past events that so drastically influenced his life, face to face with his brothers.
That event is pretty extreme in relation to family disagreements today, but the pain that results from arguments with family or friends can leave us regretting things we said or did. How do we move past events that have happened that grip us with fear when we are around those we offended? Let’s take a look at it from two perspectives from today’s scripture:
The brother’s fear was rooted in acceptance and how Joseph would treat them now that their father had passed and Joseph was in a position of authority. Due to the harsh way they treated Joseph when he was young left them wondering if he would show them mercy or possibly payback! They approached Joseph just like we should with those we’ve wronged – in humility. It’s difficult to do, but acknowledge the mistake from the past and seek forgiveness from that friend or family member.
Joseph definitely took the high road when it came to forgiving his brothers. The shock Joseph had to have had upon seeing his brothers for the first time in many years had to have been overwhelming, but he realized there was a plan in place as he explains in verse 20: “You intended to harm me, but God meant it for good.” Amazingly, Joseph realized that God positioned his life-altering experience as a young man to set him up to save many lives, including his father, brothers, and their families.
When those thoughts of fear start to creep up and tell you that “you aren’t good enough to get past your failures”, give those fears to Jesus through prayer. Talk to another church attender, Grace group leader, or friend and ask for their prayers for reconciliation with that person. Then move towards that call, text, or email to that family member that you have a painful past experience with and let them know you were in the wrong. It’s a big step, but asking for forgiveness is freeing and can help move you in the direction of eliminating those fears.