CONSIDER THE FOLLOWING
by Katie Borden
Today, I’d like to invite you to spend more time contemplating your own thoughts regarding a few questions about the passage rather than glossing over my thoughts (and, if you’re like me who self-admittedly hurries through my devotions some mornings, consider this an invitation to slow down and savor God’s truth!)
Read Genesis 45:1-15. This narrative is saturated with emotional intensity and tension. To sit in the fullness of what God is doing here, let’s consider the passage for a few moments:
1. Consider being Joseph and being so overcome with emotion that you can “no longer control [your]self”.
How might that feel?
2. Consider being in Joseph’s brothers’ shoes and discovering that the brother you thought was long dead is now standing before you, all-powerful and (to your knowledge) nursing a decades-long grudge, with no witnesses in the room. How might that feel?
3. In light of these considerations, now consider the magnitude of Joseph’s words: “Do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you…to save your lives”
Can you imagine how you might experience receiving those words from one whom you hurt? Can you imagine how you might experience speaking those words to one (or many) who hurt you?
When I consider these things more deeply, I am amazed at the gift of forgiveness & reconciliation that Joseph gave to his brothers—a gift that I imagine must have come at great personal and emotional cost to Joseph. I have to imagine that God’s Spirit was at work in Joseph for many years in order to bring him to a place of forgiveness such as this, where he seeks the welfare of those who hurt him. And yet, his deep and enduring love for his family is on display all the more through this act of forgiveness. If I continue to use my imagination, I begin to wonder if perhaps this act of forgiveness and love did not bind his family even closer to each other and breathe life into their community in a new, deeper and truer way.
And in this way, I begin to see Jesus more clearly, even in the first pages of Scripture. The Gospel work of the Spirit of God is present in Genesis as it is in Matthew through Revelation. God’s enduring & faithful love, and God’s wondrous forgiveness found in Jesus Christ are magnified in these pages and passages. Even in the real, intense, messy situations of life, God is always at work bringing light and life from places of darkness and despair. Joseph’s road was not an easy one, nor did he experience a “quick-fix” to his situation. But God was faithful and brought good from a seemingly hopeless situation, and that same God is working even now, even in you and in me. Thanks be to God.
Spend some time thanking God for the ways he is always loving, always faithful, and always at work--even in the messes, and even when we can't recognize him. Consider sharing with a friend the ways you have seen God work in the "mess," as a way to build up each other's faith. Maybe we can even share together right here in this community!