I’m so excited to start weekly posting some preview material from Joseph: The Journey to Forgiveness which will be out in August of this year. If you know any Bible study leaders or participants who might like to get a feel for what topics we’ll be getting into to see if it might be a good fit for their group this fall – please share this post with them so they can sign up to get the emails on www.melissaspoelstra.com
Acknowledging the Pain
We don’t have to look much farther than our own front door to find a place to practice forgiveness. Living in close proximity to others provides many opportunities to hurt one another. With pretenses down, we unveil our true selves at home. Family members see what we hide from others outside our four walls.
I’ve heard it said that the true test of a Christian is how he or she lives at home. Families are the people committed to love us even when our flaws are exposed. Whether through birth, adoption, or the covenant of marriage, family connections often involve our closest relationships: husband and wife, parent and child, sister and brother, grandparent and grandchild.
This was certainly true for Joseph. His father’s favor and God given dreams contributed to friction with his brothers. They were jealous and unkind. Their negative emotions led them to plot Joseph’s murder, throw him in a pit, and ultimately sell him into slavery.
Through the account of Joseph and his brothers in Genesis 37, we find that the first step on the journey to forgiveness is acknowledging the hurt. We can never forgive without getting honest about our pain. Joseph’s brothers endured some unfair neglect because of a birth order they had no control over. Whether they intended to or not, Jacob and Joseph caused pain for the brothers. And they had the choice of working toward forgiveness or vengeance.
While you may not be struggling with being on the wrong end of favoritism as Joseph’s brothers were, it’s likely that you are carrying some pain at the expense of others. If we stuff or ignore our pain, we can’t bring it to God for healing. This can leave us with festering negativity that can lead to bitterness. God wants to help us through the hurts so that we can be free to embrace His forgiveness and extend it to others.
The Psalmist reminds us of God’s care for us when others have said or done hurtful things, “You keep track of all my sorrows. / You have collected all my tears in your bottle. / You have recorded each one in your book.” (Psalm 56:8).
Tell God how you feel about whatever hurt you are experiencing right now. He saw it happen. He longs to listen and talk with you about it. He has collected every tear. Acknowledge the hurt to the One who cares more than anyone else on this planet and who offers His comfort to you.