Ever since I was a teenager I’ve been a great admirer of Joseph of Egypt. As my knowledge and understanding of him has grown, I’ve been more and more impressed with how he lived his life. Not necessarily the accomplishments, like ruling Egypt, but more on how he got there. A few years ago I gave a talk on him, and titled the talk “Things I’ve learned from Joseph of Egypt”. I think I’ll add a post from time-to-time with a specific thing I’ve learned from his life.
Joseph was so forgiving. I think he became a master of the forgiving process, which ultimately prepared him to forgive his brothers. Imagine how he must have felt being sold by those closest to him, which had to make him feel meaningless, worthless, insignificant, and of no value. I’m certain it took him a long time to forgive his brothers. I can’t even imagine how much pain he felt. I’m sure it took him time, which I think is okay. I’m also sure that he was treated very poorly by those traders who bought him, and had to learn to forgive them. He then became a slave, but after giving so much of his heart to his master, he was betrayed. Again, he was treated unfairly by those closest to him, and he was sent to prison. I think at times we put ourselves in a “prison” by holding grudges and letting other’s actions limit our progress. While he was in prison he must have had to work so hard at building himself up by forgiving Potiphar and his wife. He had no reason to forgive them, other than it was the right thing to do. I imagine he didn’t want to forgive them; he might have liked sitting in prison and blaming them for his pain. Holding grudges and not forgiving others has such a limiting effect on us, and he could have let it paralyze him in prison, but he worked through it and moved on.
Years later, after he had risen to great prominence and power, he was “reunited” with his brothers, which must have brought back all the pain that his brothers had caused. He may have felt like he had forgiven them, but we know he struggled with that again. However, he was able to lovingly forgive them and bless them, which I think is a big part of the forgiveness process, and actually a very important Christ-like attribute: seeing other’s needs regardless of our own pain and suffering.