Background Story: It’s our last day looking at the life of Joseph. What a story! Loved by his dad, sold into slavery by his jealous brothers, thrown in prison through false accusations, left there through unfulfilled promises, noticed and exalted by Pharaoh, and now his brothers stand before him needing his help. He is in the position to help or hurt them and their fate rests in his hands.
Read: Genesis 45
Then Joseph could no longer control himself before all his attendants, and he cried out, “Have everyone leave my presence!” So there was no one with Joseph when he made himself known to his brothers. 2 And he wept so loudly that the Egyptians heard him, and Pharaoh’s household heard about it.
3 Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph! Is my father still living?” But his brothers were not able to answer him, because they were terrified at his presence.
4 Then Joseph said to his brothers, “Come close to me.” When they had done so, he said, “I am your brother Joseph, the one you sold into Egypt! 5 And now, 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. 6 For two years now there has been famine in the land, and for the next five years there will be no plowing and reaping. 7 But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance.
8 “So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God. He made me father to Pharaoh, lord of his entire household and ruler of all Egypt. 9 Now hurry back to my father and say to him, ‘This is what your son Joseph says: God has made me lord of all Egypt. Come down to me; don’t delay. 10 You shall live in the region of Goshen and be near me—you, your children and grandchildren, your flocks and herds, and all you have. 11 I will provide for you there, because five years of famine are still to come. Otherwise you and your household and all who belong to you will become destitute.’
12 “You can see for yourselves, and so can my brother Benjamin, that it is really I who am speaking to you. 13 Tell my father about all the honor accorded me in Egypt and about everything you have seen. And bring my father down here quickly.”
14 Then he threw his arms around his brother Benjamin and wept, and Benjamin embraced him, weeping. 15 And he kissed all his brothers and wept over them. Afterward his brothers talked with him.
16 When the news reached Pharaoh’s palace that Joseph’s brothers had come, Pharaoh and all his officials were pleased. 17 Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Tell your brothers, ‘Do this: Load your animals and return to the land of Canaan, 18 and bring your father and your families back to me. I will give you the best of the land of Egypt and you can enjoy the fat of the land.’
19 “You are also directed to tell them, ‘Do this: Take some carts from Egypt for your children and your wives, and get your father and come. 20 Never mind about your belongings, because the best of all Egypt will be yours.’”
21 So the sons of Israel did this. Joseph gave them carts, as Pharaoh had commanded, and he also gave them provisions for their journey. 22 To each of them he gave new clothing, but to Benjamin he gave three hundred shekels[b] of silver and five sets of clothes. 23 And this is what he sent to his father: ten donkeys loaded with the best things of Egypt, and ten female donkeys loaded with grain and bread and other provisions for his journey. 24 Then he sent his brothers away, and as they were leaving he said to them, “Don’t quarrel on the way!”
25 So they went up out of Egypt and came to their father Jacob in the land of Canaan. 26 They told him, “Joseph is still alive! In fact, he is ruler of all Egypt.” Jacob was stunned; he did not believe them. 27 But when they told him everything Joseph had said to them, and when he saw the carts Joseph had sent to carry him back, the spirit of their father Jacob revived. 28 And Israel said, “I’m convinced! My son Joseph is still alive. I will go and see him before I die.”
Big Idea: Bitterness is a weight drowning us from our purpose.
Imagine for a moment swimming in a large body of water trying to get to the shore. You’re getting hit by the waves and pulled by the currents and the experience sounds exhausting. Now imagine doing the same thing but this time you’re holding onto an anchor with a weight attached. How would you not drown? How would you ever make progress and get to the shore?
I have dealt with my share of painful things happening to me as the result of other’s decisions…and it is easy to feel like you deserve to hold on to your resentment. You earned it after all. You are the one who had to go through that mess and deal with that hurt. You should get to keep the anger as a souvenir and pull it out and show it to the person who hurt you anytime you want. That seems fair.
The problem with bitterness is while you’re feeling justified, the resentment is weighing you down and drowning you from your purpose. You don’t even see that you have stopped making progress and are barely staying above the water.
When we forgive, it’s never about letting the other person off the hook. We might never have the chance to confront the person who hurt us or hear them apologize. Letting go and forgiving them is not for them…but for you. Opening up your hand and letting go of the weight that you have struggled to carry brings freedom.
How do we forgive? If you google this question, there are 4-step solutions, 7-step solutions, and many more . For me, forgiveness has always started with one simple word, “help.” We cry out to God admitting the bitterness, anger and sadness in our heart. We tell Him the truth. Do you feel like God let you down in that circumstance or wasn’t present? It’s ok to admit that to Him. We cry out to Him like a person literally drowning and this prayer begins the process of healing. When we encounter a trigger during the healing that produces pain, that’s when we return to our knees in prayer. Healing and freedom will come, and as they do, so will progress in your purpose.
And’s what’s amazing about God is He can take those painful moments of our past and use them as part of our testimony to help rescue someone else going through something similar!