Have you ever forgiven someone but not been able to reconcile with them? Forgiveness and reconciliation are not the same thing. We are always called to forgive others through the power of God working in our lives. To forgive, we acknowledge the hurt and strong emotions that accompany the pain and then ask God to help us freely let go of the offense. The Hebrew word for forgive is nasa, which means “to lift up.” When we forgive, we lift up the pain to God and require no penance or payment from our offender. Forgiveness takes only one person and happens on the inside of a person.
Reconciliation, on the other hand, takes two people. Only after both parties have repented of any wrongdoing toward the other can they come close again in relationship. After reconciliation, the relationship may be even better than before the offense or may require new boundaries, depending on how both parties behave after they have reunited.
The process to both forgiveness and reconciliation is not clear-cut and differs from person to person. In other words, there is not one right way. Sometimes we forgive quickly and then spend a long time reconciling. Other times we struggle with forgiveness for a long time and then quickly reconcile. There are as many different scenarios as there are rollercoaster rides.
As we pick up Joseph’s story this week, we find the harsh famine years greatly impacting his father and brothers’ families in Canaan. The rain isn’t falling, whether they like it or not.
Are you facing a situation that you have no control over right now? What famine in your life is causing you to feel dry and limited?
Jacob did not want to let his boys travel back to Egypt for more grain because he knew the Egyptian official had stated that they had to bring their younger Benjamin back with them when they came. Jacob had lost Joseph, and he couldn’t bear the possibility of losing Benjamin too. Here we find Jacob withholding out of fear.
His fear led him to three unhealthy behaviors. Jacob:
- Held onto unrealistic expectations.
- Blames others for situations beyond anyone’s control.
- Felt paralyzed by grief.
Can you relate to these tendencies as you face your own fears? Ultimately, Jacob put his trust in El Shaddai – the All Sufficient One. Like Jacob, we too can easily forget God’s great promises to be all that we need. Essentially we have the same options. We can choose bitterness, or we can grow through grief and prepare to follow God. And here’s the good news: we can choose to follow God even if . . .
- we trust Him only after exhausting every other option we have.
- we are still scared to release something or someone.
- our faith resembles cynical resignation.
How can you focus more on God’s character than your fears today? He is your All Sufficient, El Shaddai asking you to trust Him because He loves you and always has your best interest in mind.
“Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love.” (1 John 4:18)