I admit that sometimes as I'm reading these Bible "stories" it seems like just another fairytale. I have to remind myself that these words are true and real! They actually DID happen.
This man, named Jesus, literally walked these streets.
That boy named David really did gather some rocks and kill a huge giant (WHAT?!).
That brother named Joseph was terribly deceived by his brothers and sold as a slave.
So when I read this passage in Genesis 50 it carries a lot more weight than just the evil step-mother locking her step-daughter up in the top of a creepy castle.
Joseph was stripped and thrown into a well.
Then sold by his brothers into slavery.
Like, no more family.
I cannot even imagine the bitterness and resentment and anger that could well up over the years.
The hard heart that could forever turn to stone against these men who call themselves your brothers.
After Joseph's father died, Joseph's brothers were terrified that these typical reactions were about to haunt them for the rest of their lives and this is what happened:
"When Joseph's brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, 'It may be that Joseph will hate us and pay us back for all the evil that we did to him.' So they sent a message to Joseph saying 'Your father gave this command before he died: 'Say to Joseph, 'Please forgive the transgression of your brothers and their sin, because they did evil to you.' And now, please forgive the transgression of the servants of the God of your father.' Joseph wept when they spoke to him. His brothers also came and fell down before him and said, 'Behold, we are your servants.'"
Joseph had every right to be angry, to enslave his brothers, to pay back for the YEARS of heartache and hurt they caused Joseph.
But Joseph saw the bigger picture and replied:
"Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. So do not fear; I will provide for you and your little ones.' Thus he comforted them and spoke kindly to them."
That, my friends, is a reaction that only God can do in a heart that has been battered and bruised, but radically changed by Christ.
Allow God to turn the things that were meant for evil in your life, to mold your heart and character into alignment with Christ, so that it can turn into the good that God has planned for your life as a result of the pain.
Pain can yield beautiful fruit if you allow God to let it.