Posts Tagged ‘joseph’

Sometimes the sins people commit against us are easy to forgive, and sometimes they affect our entire lives. The surprising thing is that the sins that hurt us the most aren’t always intentional. Some people have hurt you because they weren’t thinking, and some people have hurt you because they were. When people hurt you without thinking, it seems unjust to call it accidental. It is not accidental so much as consequential. Your pain is the consequence of them thinking of themselves more than you.

Intentional and “accidental” sins can look the same. A 5-year-old can take the last cookie on a plate to intentionally steal it from his little brother, or he could only be thinking of himself when he takes it and his little brother would be hurt accidentally, as a consequence. Either way, the older brother sins – the first way by stealing the cookie on purpose, and the second way by putting himself before his little brother. Either way, his little brother experiences the same pain. One sin is direct, and the other is indirect.

Before confronting someone who’s hurt you, it helps to figure out why they hurt you. Was it because of you? Or was it because of them? Was it purposefully against you? Or was it a consequence of how they naturally are? Deciphering between the two doesn’t make the sin better or worse, but it will help you not to take it so personally, and to approach them in the right way.

Regardless of the kind of sin committed against us, we know we’ve been called to forgive like we’ve been forgiven. It goes without saying that our greatest example is Jesus, but the next person I think of is Joseph. His older brothers intended in their hearts to murder him, and decided it was safer to sell him into slavery. They despised him, so they disposed of him. Their sin against him affected Joseph’s entire life, but his perspective is incredible, and deeply humbling.

When Joseph was at his brothers’ mercy, they showed him no compassion. “We saw his anguish when he pleaded for his life, but we wouldn’t listen,” they said among themselves (Gen. 42:21). But when Joseph’s opportunity came to repay them, he blessed them. He even tried to encourage them, “But don’t be upset, and don’t be angry with yourselves for selling me to this place. It was God who sent me here ahead of you to preserve your lives” (Gen. 45:5).

If Joseph couldn’t credit his brothers with the outcome of his life, who do we have to blame for the outcome of ours? It was God. Who has built us up and who has broken us down? It was God. Who has exalted us and who has humbled us? It was God. Names and faces come to mind when we consider the ones who have affected our lives for the better and for the worse, but at the end of the day… it was God.

Close your eyes and picture the face of the one you’d most blame for your bad outcome… imagine looking at them through the eyes of Joseph, through the eyes of Jesus, and saying through your tears of compassion, “But don’t be upset, and don’t be angry with yourself for (whatever you did). It was God. You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. (Gen. 50:20)”

Now imagine Jesus looking at you through his own tears of compassion as your sin nails him to the cross, comforting you, “But don’t be upset, and don’t be angry with yourself for what you’ve done. It was God. You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good.” That’s our motivation for compassion. And over all, God is sovereign.

God, even in the meantime when we can’t see the good you have intended in the midst of the offense, help us have Joseph’s perspective so we can stop blaming people (including ourselves) for the mess we’re in and start praising you for all the good you’ve done, and plan to do. Our lives are in your hands, not in the hands of men. Forgive us for not trusting your plan…

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Blooming in winter

This morning I was walking through the rain to get to my car when I noticed flowers in bloom. Their petals looked like arms open wide in the midst of the grey, rainy day. I was inspired by something so simply beautiful. I want to bloom in the rain. No matter the weather, wherever I’m planted, I want to lift my face to the sky and smile because I’m alive.

I’ve been reading Joseph’s story. His brothers sold him to Ishmaelite traders and he was purchased by an Egyptian officer named Potiphar, who happened to be captain of the guard for Pharaoh. Since the Lord was with Joseph, he “succeeded in everything he did as he served” (Gen. 39:2) and “the Lord began to bless Potiphar’s household for Joseph’s sake.” (v. 5) Because the Lord was with him, Joseph bloomed where he was planted.

Just when things were looking up, he was falsely accused of attempted rape and thrown into prison. Joseph sat in the prison after doing nothing wrong for years. But again, despite the season, he bloomed where he was planted. “The Lord made Joseph a favorite with the prison warden. Before long, the warden put Joseph in charge of all the other prisoners and over everything that happened in the prison.” (v. 21-22)

Through a series of fortunate events orchestrated by God, Pharaoh put Joseph “in charge of the entire land of Egypt” (41:41) and exclaimed, “Can we find anyone else like this man so obviously filled with the Spirit of God?” (v. 38)

When we are stuck in a lowly position, when we are suffering unjust treatment, and when we feel trapped in a circumstance, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.” (1 Peter 5:6) Because the Lord is with us like he was with Joseph, and because we can be filled with his Spirit, we can bloom wherever we are planted.

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