By Ted Werth
He was what we call a brat. And this one fit the stereotype. A spoiled little brother. Scorned by his siblings; despised as a know-it-all. Beloved by Mom and Dad. Andto make matters worse, he often did know it all. Humility wasn’t this kid’s strong point.
While still a teen, Joe’slack of humility teamed up with his know-it-all attitude.It wasn’t a pretty sight and his siblings had seen enough. They did an awful thing. They shipped him off to another city. A one way ticket to a place far, far away.It’s not known what Joe thought about all this; it is hard to believe he didn’t have a lot of anger, even hatred towards his siblings.But he made the best of his situation.You see, Joe really did have skills.He had the gift of administration.
Joe worked hard and in time landed a position as the personal manager for an important and wealthy man.But alas, in Joe’s world, two wrongs did make a right. As in ‘right bad.’Falsely accused but convicted, he suddenly found himself in prison.
Now I don’t know about you, but I would think that by now Joe would be a bitter guy.After all, he was abandoned once and now finds himself in prison. Rather stiff penalties for brattish behavior.By all evidence though, Joe was not bitter.He prayed.And one day it appeared as if his prayers were to be answered.You see, Joe helped a fellow inmate and this fellow inmate was quickly rewarded with early parole. Joe had asked this inmate to remember him and to use his newly discovered influence to free him from his injustice.Unfortunately, the former inmate quickly forgot Joe.Freedom never arrived and yet more time passed.
It’s now two years later and the former inmate, working for the country’s ruler, remembered Joe and his ability.This ruler found himself haunted by a persistent mystery and he was desperate for answers.Since no one could provide this ruler with an adequate answer, the employees were willing to try anything.So Joe was brought from prison.I think we are safe in saying that Joe, believing that this might be the answer to his prayers, said yet another. By now the ruler was rather angry that no one in his administration could solve his mystery.Joe was more or less a last resort.Joe’s prayer was answered and he solved the mystery. His solution was so profound that this ruler instantly made him his right hand man.His chief of staff so to speak.
So Joe overcame the terrible injustices inflicted on him.I have no doubt the injustices he suffered helped him gain the humility he lacked as a young man.It’s a great story; you know, if you work hard and do the right thing life will eventually work out.
Unfortunately, the previous narrative is only a prelude to the story’s end.A sad story concerning seventeen years.
Remember Joe’s siblings? For all these years they lived with the secret of what they had done.Guilt was magnified by their father’s recurring grief.
Bad judgment often leads to further bad judgment.That was the case here. Desperate to cover their tracks they had created an elaborate story to convince their father that Joe had died in a terrible accident. Regrets were further compounded by the knowledge that they could never confess what happened, lest they inflict further grief on their father.
Joe and his brother’s paths would eventually cross .
They crossed at a time when the brothers find themselves in desperate need of food.Joe, or more properly, Joseph, is now the chief administrator of Egypt. Selected by, and answering only to, Pharaoh himself.There is a world-wide famine going on;a famine that will go on for five more years.But Joseph, in his wisdom, has ordered the storage of grain the past several years.And because of that, people come from distant lands in hopes they would be allowed to buy grain.Among these are Joseph’s brothers.
Joseph spots his brothers. With a simple word he has the power to gain revenge in any manner he wishes.Instead, he cries. He cries tears of joy.His family may have their issues, but now is a time for forgiveness.He finds them, assures them that what happened was a part of God’s plan; that they should no longer be angry with themselves for what they did.
Joseph reaches out to his brothers.He proudly brings them before Pharaoh who, because of his favor towards Joseph, provides them with the best land and all the provisions they need.They settle in the land with their families and prosper.For seventeen years they enjoy the best of what Egypt has to offer.Seventeen good years on the outside. Seventeen lost years on the inside.
We often focus on forgivingthose who have hurt us.But the other side of the equation we often neglect is the need to forgive ourselves.For those times we have fallen short. Only then will we beready to accept forgiveness.The story of Joseph is a story of many lessons. This one is the lesson of those seventeen lost years .
In spite of the forgiveness long ago offered by their brother Joseph, we read at the end of Genesis.
Joseph’s father Jacob lived for seventeen years after his arrival in Egypt. But now that their father was dead, Joseph’s brothers were frightened. They said “Joseph will pay us back for all the evil we did to him.”So they sent him this message “Before he died our father instructed us to tell you to forgive us for the great evil we did to you. We servants of the God of your father beg you to forgive us.”
When Joseph read the message, he broke down and wept.
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