I’ve been thinking about forgiveness quite a bit lately, particularly in the context of the story of Joseph and his brothers.
I imagine most of you are probably familiar with the story, but I’ll give a brief summary. Joseph has dreams as a teenager and (unwisely) decides to tell them to his family. That and being the favorite son doesn’t do him any favors.
His brothers end up selling him into slavery (making Joseph the first recorded victim of human trafficking). He winds up in Egypt, where he goes from a slave in Potiphar’s court to wrongful imprisonment to a high-ranking position in the government (thanks in large part to his God-given ability to interpret dreams.
One of the dreams he interprets predicts a coming famine to all the known world. He’s able to prepare by storing up large amounts of grain during a time of plenty, so that Egypt not only has enough to survive but also to sell to neighboring countries.
Some of the people who show up to buy food happen to be those very brothers who sold him in the first place. Joseph is able to see how God used their evil act for good to save a multitude of people, including his own family.
Joseph could have chosen bitterness. Or revenge. He was well within his rights to seek retribution against his brothers. He probably could have even had them killed if he wanted.
People will say that forgiveness is a cop out for the weak. I say forgiveness takes great strength. I will go so far as to say that true forgiveness is impossible without God’s help. As my pastor said recently, forgiveness is releasing the expectation that the other person or persons can fix what they did. That’s hard.
Joseph was able to forgive because of his perspective. He saw how God had been with him time and time again though every stage of his journey from home to Egypt, from son to slave to ruler. Joseph was able to see the bigger picture.
Forgiveness ultimately sees that there is nothing that you’ve done or that has been done to you that God can’t work for good and His glory.
Who do you need to forgive (including yourself)? Who do you need to seek forgiveness from?
I love the image that forgiveness is opening the door to a prison cell to release the prisoner only to discover that that prisoner was you all along.
Forgiveness is a beautiful thing.