Genesis 45:1-46:7. This week we have been following the story of Joseph, the son of Jacob and the great grandson of Abraham. The villain in our epic story has used jealousy, hatred, and betrayal to divide the descendants of Abraham and to defeat the promise of blessing from our hero, God, to bless all nations through them. Joseph, sold by his half brothers into slavery in Egypt has risen to high position in charge of food during this famine and the brothers must bargain with him to survive. He recognizes the brothers but they do not recognize him. He demands they return home and bring back Joseph’s younger brother as proof of their story and to show they are not spies. Joseph has the upper hand and all the power. His birth family is starving and he has the power to reap revenge. But he hesitates, giving himself time to process this turn of events and to grieve his losses. When the brothers return, he invites them for a meal and finally reveals himself.
“I am Joseph! Is my father still living?” Rather than revenge, Joseph first states his core identity, Joseph, son of Jacob. All the labels that life has put on him: steward of Potiphar, criminal, dreamer, favorite son of Jacob all carry stories he is able to lignor and to simply say, “I am Joseph.” When we are put to the test and have to sort out our identities do we flash our credentials from schools and degrees and accomplishments and relationships or are we able to stand secure in our birth identity as a child of God?
Secondly we see that under the anger and grief is a deep longing to be reunited with the father who loved him so much. Many of us know the pain of a wayward child and the agony of the years of silence that separations and differences can bring about. We long to hear that child ask for us. Sometimes that happens but not always. Some of us are living in the midst of stories that have not finished and the reunion scene may still be coming. Some of us are denied that reconciliation by the evils of life – suicide, addictions, poverty, and ignorance. We never meet the child born out of wedlock or the child that ran away. Joseph’s story shares of reunited love for his father that enabled him to forgive his brother.
Most importantly, Joseph gains a larger picture of life through this experience. “It was not you who sent me here, but God.” Sometimes the pain is so intense we cannot see the hand of God directing events till later. But Joseph is able to look back and see how God has led through all the rough times to now. That does not mean there will be no more troubles or family squabbles but it does mean Joseph can forgive and reconciliation with the brothers and with his father takes place. The truth comes out. The man of power is Joseph, Joseph has the internal power to forgive, and Joseph still loves his father.
So what is our take away? Perhaps there are broken relationships that you could make the first move to mend. Perhaps there is a need to ask yourself where God is in the relationship you are grieving about. Silence and avoidance, not seeing each other does not seem to resolve things. Abusive relationships may need to be dealt with on your knees with God. In any case, God does not abandon us in our difficult family arguments and our painful life experiences. He is always working to bring about good, even if we cannot see it today. Peace as you wait for him to resolve your conflict and bring reconciliation.