This morning I was re-reading the complete story of Joseph. Although we often hear of his plight (thrown into a pit and sold into slavery by his brothers, jail time for something he never even did), we seldom hear the other details of the story. Yes, God did use Joseph’s plight for good. He used the atrocious actions of his brothers to save them, and save a nation when famine would have killed them all.
But Joseph was human, of course. And through his story, I was reminded of how to respond when I am wronged.
Anger + Stubbornness- When Joseph’s brothers first approached him for food, he tossed them into a holding cell for three days. He later set it up to look like Benjamin stole silver. This waylays the brothers on their second journey home as they are falsely accused and then promptly returned to the city.
Anger is a natural emotion that God has given us and it often has positive results when used appropriately. Although God tells us to not sin in our anger, He feels it himself and fully expects it of us. It is a step when processing through many things-including grief, wrongdoing and pain. It is OK to feel anger when we are wronged. It is OK to cry out to God and lament the pain of being falsely accused, looked down upon or stepped on. He understood Joseph and He understands you and me.
Grief + Joy- Three times during this story, Joseph either turns away from his brothers or leaves the room to go elsewhere. He weeps after he sees his brothers for the first time in years and when he finally sees Benjamin, his full-blooded and younger brother. He weeps again when he tells his brothers who he really is. In Genesis 45:2, he weeps so loudly that the Egyptians hear him and Pharaoh’s entire household learns of it.
I don’t believe that Joseph was any more emotional than the rest of us. But I have had a similar experience when, after years of turmoil, it was acknowledged by family members that they had been misled, and in fact now understood I had a certain family member’s best interest at heart. I cried too.
Forgiveness + Graciousness- Joseph was gracious to his brothers in spite of their sin against him. He sent them home not only with extra provisions but he returned their money to them as well. Later, after he had revealed himself, he provided goods in excess for his family and then moved them to the area where they lived a prosperous life.
Have I been gracious to those who have wronged me and falsely accused me? I need to do better with this one. In the story, Joseph’s graciousness to his brothers has a direct result on their conscience. God used Joseph’s graciousness in bringing his brothers to repentance. Is it possible that when we “go the extra mile”, “take the high road” and treat others better than they have treated us that God will reward that in some fashion? I believe so. He shows us this in the story of Joseph.
Faithfulness + Loyalty- Joseph wasn’t perfect by any means. But it is clear throughout his lifetime that he remained close to God during the multiple, discouraging trials that haunted him. Although he definitely responded as a human might to these situations initially, he always came back around to trusting and yielding to God. As he did this, it allowed God to turn these situations to good for those involved and future generations.
When I remain irritated and unforgiving, God cannot work in my life to turn the trials to good. My stubbornness waylays His goodness, just like Joseph planting the silver waylaid his brother’s journey. Like a patient Father, God waits for me to come around. And when I do, He rewards that with an emotional release from those who irk me, a knowledge that I am right with God and His precepts and the ultimate peace in my heart. And that opens the door for Him to speak to others about it too.