This portion of the Scriptures is about Joseph’s reunion with his brothers – when they come to Egypt to find food for their father and their families. These brothers are the ones who sold him to a caravan headed for Egypt and then presented his torn, bloody garment to their father, convincing him that his youngest son was dead.
Thirteen years later Joseph receives his brothers. He had the power to imprison them but his perspective had changed. Instead of seeking revenge for his mistreatment, he welcomes them with open arms and tears. This is clearly not a case of ‘time heals all wounds’ but a case of how God had taught him that trusting Him is better than trusting self. It is better to find His guidance even when others do us evil:
- “And as for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive.” (Gen 50:20 NAS)
Now that quote is ahead of the story but his attitude is the same in chapter 45:
- “And now do not be grieved or angry with yourselves, because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life. (Gen 45:5 NAS)
- “And God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant in the earth, and to keep you alive by a great deliverance. “Now, therefore, it was not you who sent me here, but God; and He has made me a father to Pharaoh and lord of all his household and ruler over all the land of Egypt. (Gen 45:7-8 NAS)
1) Living with the past is most difficult when it is evil. When people have done us harm it can change the way our entire life goes for the rest of our life. It can make us bitter, hateful, and resentful. But we can choose to live differently, at least with God’s help.
2) God gave Joseph a perspective that he did not have when he was young. He had every reason to hate his brothers and he now had the power to destroy them. Instead, he sees how God was shaping and orchestrating the events in his life to bring him to a spot to preserve life and do good. God can take even very painful experiences and bring about good in our life. Most of us will never see that except with some hindsight, possibly years later. This is intrinsically difficult to see at the time; maybe impossible.
But what ought to help us now is if we can truly live with the perspective that God has His hand on us and where our life is headed… even through the bad stuff He works for our good ultimately. Either that or we can live a very long and difficult life on our own, allowing the pain of evil to shape the ebb and flow of our lives. It’s never easy, but very costly if we do not get that figured out (Matthew 5:23-26; 18:21-35).
What is important is when God brings us into our inheritance with Him; it will also be with everyone else that has put faith and trust in Him. It will be a marvelous family reunion that will not be filled with animosity or anger or resentment – it will be filled with His joy and peace for the whole family, not unlike Joseph’s reunion with his family and especially with his father.