What we can learn from Joseph as we enter in to this family filled weekend..
We’re traveling near and far for this Holiday season for 3 reasons: family, food and fellowship. I believe thanksgiving is a beautiful holiday, done the right way. Where we come together in thankfulness for our loved ones. A day where we can gather without the interruptions of our jobs, social media or busy errands. A day of rest and communion.
However, this time of year isn’t a highlight for every family. So many bottled up issues come to the surface and toxic emotions begin to flare up at even the sight of certain family members. So, how do we address it? How do we show the love of Christ without sweeping under the rug the very reality of a dysfunctional family? I think those are valid questions and not everyone’s approach will look alike, but let’s take Joseph and his brothers for example.
Joseph was one of Jacobs 11 sons. He was favored by his father (Gen 37:3) and his brothers noticed this partiality towards him. They became very jealous of Joseph (Gen 37:4) and plotted to kill him. Later, they settled for selling him to a couple of Ishmaelite’s, and then lied, telling their father he was killed by a wild beast. This left their father with great grief. Throughout the story you’ll find a commonality between Joseph’s situation and modern day families: favoritism, family secrets, jealousy and betrayal.
By chapter 42, Joseph has been through many trials. He was a slave, then prisoner then a trusted city official and through it all God had his hand on him. It was at this time where the land of Egypt had famine, which put everyone, even his estranged family in jeopardy. After they were reconnected, Joseph turned his pain into a testimony by reconciling. Let’s examine how Joseph dealt with his own family issues and what he did to overcome them:
Despite his past with his brothers, Joseph was willing to put it behind him and help save their family from coming calamity, for nothing in return.
When Joseph revealed himself to his brothers he wept. Though it was a very hurtful situation, He resolved that it wasn't them but God's will that he was there. He kissed all of his brothers and wept with them in forgiveness. He was breaking up the follow ground of his heart (Jerimiah 4:3)…in order to see change.
He forgave his brothers and sent them to get the rest of their families with carts full of necessities. He told them to come back to Egypt to live in Goshen where there will be safety and provision during the famine. After their father died his brothers were afraid that he would recant his decision and retaliate. However, He reassured them that they were forgiven and they did not need to worry. When Joseph forgave them he did so completely, he didn’t mention it again.
....Love takes no record of wrongs -1 Corinthians 13:15
Although our stories aren’t exactly like Joseph’s I believe we can learn at least something from him. It’s not easy to face conflict, especially with people that are supposed to be a support system of love. However, if you are willing to forgive, whether it’s received or not, I know God will honor that. I don’t know the diversity of every situation. It could be abuse involved and other toxic things so there is definitely a measure of wisdom and variety of practical things to do. I’m not professing that I have all the answers to everyone’s variety of family issues. One thing I do know is that the common denominators will be love, forgiveness and the power of the Holy Spirit that will enable you to do both with grace.
My prayer is that as we gather around this weekend that we all pursue the true benefits of thanksgiving. And that God would also give us grace and wisdom to be a light to our families.