Of all the heroes of the Bible, the one that I can most relate to is Joseph from the Old Testament. Joseph suffered abuse at the hands of his older brothers. He was kidnapped and thrown down into a pit while his brothers bantered about arrogantly above him trying to decide whether or not to let him live. In the end they decided to sell him so at that least they could make a little money from the transaction. To be hated at that level changes something inside you. You lose innocence.
The story of Joseph is the story of a man who tried to do the right thing no matter what it cost him. What Joseph had to go through and what he gained from it stops me cold when I think about it. The lessons I learn are few but powerful. God loves. God sees. God remembers. God works.
Many have said that the climax of the story is the part where Joseph is reunited with his brothers. At this point Joseph was a real man of power in the world. Egyptian leaders in those days wore heavy eye makeup. When the Bible says he had to leave the room because he wanted to cry I can visualize him rushing to his bedroom with black kohl streaking down his cheeks as the healing tears flowed. Like I said, I can relate.
But for me the real climax of the story happened earlier. Before God set things straight between Joseph and his family, He set things straight in Joseph’s heart. The evidence of God’s healing in Joseph and the tender and satisfying climax of the story comes for me when Joseph named his two sons. The first he called Manasseh which means to forget. He says, ‘because God has caused me to forget all the troubles I suffered at the hands of my family’. The second he called Ephraim which means fruitful. He says, ‘for God has made me fruitful in the land of my misfortune’. Powerful words of hope and healing.
I don’t know if God will one day set things right between me and those who abused me. I dream for and long for that, even though for some of them it is already too late. Not everyone gets reconciliation – and not everyone gets put in charge of a superpower nation. But when I see my own children, I know that God has already made reconciliation in my heart. When I remember, I catch my breath and my heart skips a beat with gratitude and humility.
No matter what happened to you, no matter how you were treated, may Our Good and Faithful Father make you forget the trouble you suffered and may He make you fruitful in the land of your misfortune.