After Jacob died, Joseph's brothers once again get afraid that he will seek revenge. They think he will seek justice for the wrongs he suffered at their hands, at their expense.
Wow! He has forgiven them, wept over them, blessed them, rescued them, loved them, protected them, trusted them, spoken freely with them...What more do these guys need to see that they are truly forgiven?
They still have to fabricate lies to try to protect themselves. They tell Joseph that their father, on his deathbed, requested that he fully forgive them.
When Joseph hears this lie, he breaks down weeping yet again.
And I wonder. How many times do I continue to make excuses for my sinful behavior? How many times do I cast blame on others because I am afraid to walk in forgiveness? I hide behind my fear afraid to live in freedom. Fear. It's crippling. It's wounding. It's all the brothers can see. It surrounds me and clouds my vision when I'm focused on my mistakes, sins and shortcomings too.
I am touched so much by Joseph's response. He breaks down weeping. Then he calls his brothers to his side and reassures them of his deep love and forgiveness by pledging to continue to care for them and speaking kindly to them.
God has so powerfully redeemed Joseph's suffering and showed his sovereignty in the purpose he has for Joseph over and over again that this is so not an issue with Joseph. Only with his brothers.
And I wonder. Do I believe the purpose God has behind every situation that comes my way, both good and bad? Do I know that nothing can stop God's plan? Is my faith so strong that forgiveness and blessing ooze out of my life? Really, do I rest in the peace of God's sovereignty? Or do I focus on my hurts, my offenses, my losses? So often, I am so focused on what went wrong that I can miss what went right. Joseph knows. Listen.
"But Joseph replied, “Don’t be afraid of me. Am I God, that I can punish you? You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people. No, don’t be afraid. I will continue to take care of you and your children.” So he reassured them by speaking kindly to them. Genesis 50:19-21
I love these verses. I read them. I soak in them. I meditate on them.
And I wonder. Do I live like Joseph or do I live like his brothers. Do I believe I'm forgiven? Do I accept God's promises as my own? Have I seen redemption played out so many times in my own life that I believe in God's sovereignty over blaming others? Have I experienced the type of forgiveness that produces abundant life and the ability to love others? Do I really live like one who God has rescued over and over again? What was meant for evil, God used...For His Good...Freedom lies there. "You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good...So he reassured them by speaking kindly to them." Healing words. Gentle words. Tender words. Words-that-turn-away-wrath words. Living words. Kind words.
Forgiveness is in those words. Accept it. Extend it. His purposes are prevailing.