Then Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Can I do what only God can do? You meant to hurt me, but God turned your evil into good to save the lives of many people, which is being done.
[Genesis 50:19, 20 NCV]
For those of us that have read through the Bible or for those of us “good church kids” that have graduated from multiple Vacation Bible School’s, the story of Joseph is one that is extremely familiar. Joseph went form the pit to the palace over the course of his life (at least that’s what the VBS theme that year said, right?). He had a dream, was betrayed by his brothers, left for dead, wrongly accused, jailed and disrespected.
After many years away from the bothers that betrayed him earlier in his life, Joseph finds himself in the position of being over the food and supplies that his brothers desperately needed during a time of famine.
Joseph came face to face with his brothers as the 2nd in command and had every chance (and maybe every right) to offer a little payback on all that had happened to him. Instead, though, Joseph reacts completely opposite from the way we so often do after someone hurts us. Joseph, looks up at his brothers, tears in his eyes I’m sure, and says, “Don’t be afraid.”
In the face of hurt and pain and potential payback, Joseph does 2 things that we can practice with the people that hurt us…
Joseph trusted God with his brothers. He trusted that God would punish where He needed to punish. You and I need to learn that same lesson. Our job isn’t to teach others how to act or teach them a lesson… our job is to forgive for our own sake and let God take care of the lesson teaching and retribution. Trust that He’s got your back and He knows what’s best for the person that hurt you too.
See the Good
This is ultimately what I admire most about Joseph in this moment in his life. Joseph chose to see how blessed he was because of the hurt that he had endured. He knew that without the hurt and pain, he wouldn’t be where he was and doing what he was doing. He understood that his God loved him so much that he would work it our for his good. We have to learn that. No matter how you’ve been hurt or what’s hurt you, try to find the good.
I know that it can be really tough to practice these things. Some of the hurt that people endure today is beyond my imagination.
I do still believe, though, that God is a great healer and a great teacher. He watched his Son hurt and die. He knows hurt. Trust him for the healing.