Compassion is not my natural bent. Nine times out of ten I’d rather just tell you – or I mean everyone besides you – to get over it. I know, heartless. Ironically I have a psychology degree. Maybe there’s good reason God interrupted my plan to become a marriage and family counselor. (And a flight attendant. That was my other idea. “I’m sorry sir but we cannot land this plane if your seat is back those two inches. So just get over it.”)
Devotional Scripture: Genesis 43:1 – 44:34
Key Verse: “For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:13
But over the years I’ve definitely seen my heart soften. As I’ve cried alongside desperately hurting friends, felt the weight of my own bad choices, and stood at the graveside of caskets far too small. To the point in which just this morning while eating my eggs I had to hide the tears that threatened as I read the broken words of a woman who lost her mother at just eighteen.
Her pain echoed through me in a way that made me so very thankful to be watering the flowers on my front porch, meeting the incessant demands of my children, and wading through a sink full of dirty dishes.
It gave me a good dose of perspective – as did over twenty years of unending guilt for Joseph’s brothers. Locked in a jail cell the betrayal of Joseph was the first thing that came to their minds (42:21). It had not left them. It had shaped them. But Joseph needed to know how. Did they feel remorse for what they’d done? Had they changed for the better? So he put them through a series of tests.
First he kept one brother back. Would they come back for him? And would they bring Benjamin? They did. But did they hate Benjamin as they hated him? Would they abandon Benjamin as they did him?
When they returned Joseph invited them into his home. He seated them by birth order. Then heaped five times as much food on Benjamin’s plate. Did they care? Nope. Apparently they didn’t. But the true test was yet to come.
Joseph had his cup, his silver cup, placed in the mouth of Benjamin’s sack. Then sent his steward after them. “What have you done? Why did you take my lord’s special cup?” But they were indignant. “What are you talking about? We didn’t take his special cup!” (obviously my paraphrase)
So certain of their innocence they put their lives on the line. “Whichever of your servants is found with it shall die, and we also will be my lord’s servants” (44:9). And lone behold there it was in Benjamin’s sack.
They tore their clothes. What on earth? But how? Why? Then together returned to the city. Every last one of them. And offered themselves as Joseph’s servants. But Joseph refused, “No no no, I’ll just take the little one. He’s the one who had the cup.” (more of my paraphrase)
How Joseph held it together as his brothers groveled before him, I have not the slightest idea. But he had done it. He had created an opportunity for his brothers to betray Benjamin, just as they had him. Only this time the stakes were higher. In exchange for Benjamin he offered each of them their freedom. Tempting, very very tempting.
But they wouldn’t do it again. Not now. Not ever. It would kill their father. I think it’s safe to say God their hearts had been softened. Besides, Judah had made a promise to return Benjamin and he intended to keep it. So he offered his own life in exchange for Isaac’s favorite boy. The kind of quality one might expect from the tribe of our LORD and Savior Jesus Christ.
There was no jealousy. No strife. No teetering back and forth as to what to do. Just selfless determination that allowed them to gather on the highly coveted edge of reconciliation.
Something you may long for or hope for or dream of in this vast world of broken relationships. But how did it happen for them? How did they get to the point wherein love and honesty and grace and mercy were about to burst forth with no restraint?
They let go. All of them. Joseph of any and all bitterness, anger, hate, or revenge. The brothers of all jealousy and envy, and deception. They let go of hurt feelings and grudges. They let go of pride and selfish ambition. And they let go of control. A big one for Jacob.
With little option remaining, Jacob surrendered. “So be it,” he said. And “May God Almighty grant you mercy before the man” But as for me…“If I am bereaved of my children, I am bereaved” (43:14). He let go. And he let God.
When God calls us to let go of something – be it a loved one, a dream, a plan, a life of guilt or anxiety or favoritism, a seed of bitterness or an all encompassing envy, a feeling of control, a long standing lie, or an ever-present wish – it might be the hardest thing you’ve ever had to do. But if it’s the right thing; if it’s God asking you to do it; if it means deliverance or blessing or freedom or reconciliation, then it’s absolutely worth it. And possible through Him who gives us strength (Phil. 4:13).
Little did Jacob realize his boy, his long lost boy, was that dreaded man. And that letting go would bring the most beautiful of blessings into his life. And little did his sons realize the breaking would bring about the best kind of remaking. And the admitting the most brilliant forgiving.
My friend is there something you need to let go of today? Something you’ve long held onto because it’s too scary or too hard or too shameful to admit? Today I pray you find the courage to surrender. To be real. To be honest. Because on the other side just might be the most beautiful of blessings, a reconciliation you didn’t think possible, a remaking you never saw coming, or a forgiving you never thought you’d get to experience.
Contemplate and Evaluate:
When have you let go and saw God’s gracious hand work things out for the better?
What do you need to let go of today? A wish, a dream, a thought of envy or seed of bitterness? Ask the LORD to give you the strength (Phil. 4:13). And remember His mercies are new every morning.
(Photo credit: Pixabay)