“And when Joseph’s brethren saw that their father was dead, they said, Joseph will peradventure hate us, and will certainly requite us all the evil which we did unto him. And they sent a messenger unto Joseph, saying, Thy father did command before he died, saying, So shall ye say unto Joseph, Forgive, I pray thee now, the trespass of thy brethren, and their sin; for they did unto thee evil: and now, we pray thee, forgive the trespass of the servants of the God of thy father. And Joseph wept when they spake unto him. And his brethren also went and fell down before his face; and they said, Behold, we be thy servants. And Joseph said unto them, Fear not: for am I in the place of God? But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive. Now therefore fear ye not: I will nourish you, and your little ones. And he comforted them, and spake kindly unto them” (Genesis 50:15–21).
Joseph suffered bad treatments from his brothers. He was thrown into a well and then sold into slavery so that Joseph had to endure a lot of suffering in Egypt. As humans, we might say that it was normal for Joseph to experience bitterness and then swear to revenge. However, from the verses above, we read that Joseph even forgave his brothers and considered all the bad events he experiences to be God’s goodness.
What enabled Joseph to forgive his brothers sincerely? This is what Joseph believed that enabled him to forgive his brothers:
1. He believes that vengeance belongs to God.
And Joseph said unto them “Fear not: for am I in the place of God?” Joseph realized that his position as a human did not have the right to judge and retaliate. He left everything to God.
Realize that God knows better how to take vengeance, that’s why give vengeance to God because He is wiser.
“Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord” (Romans 12:19).
“Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God” (James 1:19–20).
2. He believes that God works in all things for good to those who love Him and live for His purpose (Romans 8:28).
“But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive” (Genesis 50:20).
Joseph knew that everything that happened in his life was for good, not only to equip him, but also to prepare him to save his people.
All the events that occur in our lives have been designed by God to mold and equip us, not to hurt us. That is why nothing happens by chance. All the bitterness that we experience is meant to break our hearts so that they are big enough to bear nations that are put in our hearts. We can learn from the story of Jonah who had to go through various events so that he could fulfill his calling (Jonah 1:4–17; 2: 1, 10; 4:1–11).
If it is outsiders or strangers who make us bitter, it may not hurt us that much. However, often the most painful events come from the people we love the most. Indeed, they are the ones who have the potential or opportunity to hurt us the most. So we have to learn to believe that parents, children, siblings, congregations are determined by God’ and surely be good for us, no matter what bad treatments we may receive from them.
So be vigilant to not to have bitterness, but that doesn’t mean we avoid everyone. In essence, if there are people who make us bitter, whether by someone close to us or strangers, forgive them and leave everything to God and believe that He also works to bring good.
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