Good morning! I hope this day finds you and your family well, and I want you to know that you are in my prayers daily during this difficult time.
I invite you to take a few moments with me to reflect on today’s Upper Room Devotional below — as well as on the theology woven into “It is well with my soul.”
Special thanks to Peggy Graff and her guests for providing this uplifting and inspiring addition to us in her Hymn-a-Day May series. I pray that these paired daily selections will uplift your spirits and feed your soul as much as it does mine.
Genesis 50:15-21 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
Joseph Forgives His Brothers
15 Realizing that their father was dead, Joseph’s brothers said, “What if Joseph still bears a grudge against us and pays us back in full for all the wrong that we did to him?” 16 So they approached[a] Joseph, saying, “Your father gave this instruction before he died, 17 ‘Say to Joseph: I beg you, forgive the crime of your brothers and the wrong they did in harming you.’ Now therefore please forgive the crime of the servants of the God of your father.” Joseph wept when they spoke to him. 18 Then his brothers also wept,[b] fell down before him, and said, “We are here as your slaves.” 19 But Joseph said to them, “Do not be afraid! Am I in the place of God? 20 Even though you intended to do harm to me, God intended it for good, in order to preserve a numerous people, as he is doing today. 21 So have no fear; I myself will provide for you and your little ones.” In this way he reassured them, speaking kindly to them.
In this passage of scripture from Genesis 50, Joseph does a remarkable thing: he forgives his brothers who sold him into slavery and tricked their father into thinking he was dead. Here is what he said to his brothers: “Do not be afraid! Am I in the place of God? Even though you intended to do harm to me, God intended it for good, in order to preserve a numerous people, as he is doing today. So have no fear; I myself will provide for you and your little ones.”
There is a lot in his response to his brothers asking for forgiveness, but what strikes me is his question, “Am I in the place of God?” He is asking, Who am I to withhold forgiveness? Who am I to condemn?
Christian tradition has often pointed to Joseph as being Christ-like, or a “type” of Christ. It is in this passage that we see that perhaps most clearly. After all, Jesus taught about forgiveness and not putting ourselves in the place of God: “Do not judge, and you will not be judged; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.” (Luke 6:37) He not only taught it, but lived it. On the cross he prayed that God would forgive those who put him there: “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34)
This raises some questions we would do well to consider: What is the role of forgiveness in my life at this time? What is the difference between judging or condemning someone and discerning the truthfulness or character of that person?
Thank you for sharing this early moment of your day with me, with God, and with the words and music that I hope you will carry with you throughout the coming day and night.
I am so grateful for you, for our church, and for the Love that will see us all through this very difficult time. Please stay safe and well and we’ll be together again in spirit tomorrow morning!
Grace and Peace,
Dr. Tim Bruster