Joseph grew up sheltered, valued, and favored by his father Jacob. But his life forever changed when his brothers decided they had had enough of his superiority. They stripped him of his coveted coat and threw him into an empty pit. They contemplated ending his life right then and there, but decided instead to sell him to some traveling merchants. He then became a slave in the far away land of Egypt, and because of living a life of integrity was thrown into prison. And forgotten there.
Or so it seemed.
“When you are in the middle of a story it isn't a story at all, but only a confusion; a dark roaring, a blindness, a wreckage of shattered glass and splintered wood; like a house in a whirlwind, or else a boat crushed by the ice bergs or swept over the rapids, and all aboard powerless to stop it. It's only afterwards that it becomes anything like a story at all. When you are telling it, to yourself or to someone else.” (Margaret Atwood, Alias Grace)
“When we decide to own our stories and live our truth, we bring our light to the darkness.” (Brene Brown, Rising Strong)
I wonder what those 13 years in the middle of Joseph's story were like. And I wonder when and how he came to “own his story.”
I love this song and scene "You Know Better Than I" in the movie Joseph King of Dreams:
“But while Joseph was there in the prison, the Lord was with him; he showed him kindness.” (Genesis 39:20-21)
I wonder what Joseph must have felt when he had risen to a place of power, after interpreting Pharaoh's dreams, and his brothers arrived on the scene desperate for food.
What was the testing of his brothers all about anyway? Requiring that one of the brothers remain in Egypt until they returned with their youngest brother? Returning their silver payment in their sacks of grain? And when they returned with Benjamin, planting his silver cup in Benjamin's sack?
I've read some different interpretations, but it's not clear to me if Joseph had forgiven them beforehand or if this “testing” was part of his forgiving process. Was the purpose to help bring his brothers to a place of regret and repentance?
After Joseph broke down and revealed his identity, he embraced and reassured his brothers, who were overcome with fear.
“Do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you...God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance. So then it was not you who sent me here, but God.” (Genesis 45:5,7-8)
Joseph had eyes to see the Grace of God in his brothers' betrayal, in his years of slavery and imprisonment, in his experiences that could easily be described as acts of injustice. Joseph chose to see God's gracious hand of Sovereignty instead of growing bitter with resentment. He experienced and then extended forgiveness, to those who knew they didn't deserve it.
“You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good.” (Genesis 50:20)
"Hurt people hurt. Forgiven people learn to forgive people. (This quote is from Steve Saint in an inspiring, beautiful story of forgiveness) "60 Years Later with Steve Saint:"
“There are too many people today who instead of feeling hurt, are acting out their hurt; instead of acknowledging pain, they're inflicting pain on others. Rather than risking feeling disappointed, they're choosing to live disappointed.” (Brene Brown, Rising Strong)
What do I do with my hurt, pain, and disappointment?