Joseph was abused and sold into slavery by his brothers, falsely accused by an owner he faithfully served and then forgotten in an Egyptian prison. Joseph chose to see God delivering him from dire circumstances and enjoyed the favor and blessing of God through Pharaoh. When his brothers found their way back into his life, he struggled with the trauma of years past and entertained the option of taking revenge. Spoiler alert: he chose to accept God as being the One in ultimate control of his life, not his older brothers who abused their power by egregiously wronging him. Forgiveness won. God won. What was true for Joseph, is true for me.
I wish I could say that I have been that wise in my life. I can think of more than a few times that I have held onto a hard knot of anger towards others who I thought had wronged me. My mind would get to the scene of the offense and I would hit PLAY, STOP, REVERSE, PLAY repeatedly. Sometime during the craziness, I realized that perhaps I was ultimately angry at God for allowing the whole situation to take place. When I confessed the anger, God graciously forgave and soothed my aching heart. I had held onto the pain and had seen the power others had to wound as being greater than Christ’s love for me. In truth, the power of God’s love for me wins every time in every situation.
I think Paul understood this to an even far greater extent than I. Perhaps that’s what enabled him to suffer harsh abuse and yet continue to preach the love of God. Knowing and trusting in God’s sovereignty freed him to honestly say,
Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying please men, I would not be a servant of Christ. Galatians 1:10.
Knowing that God was sovereign allowed David to wonder,
Who is this King of glory? The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle.
Lift up your heads, O you gates; lift them up, you ancient doors that the King of glory might come in.
Who is he, this King of glory? The Lord Almighty—he is the King of Glory.
Holy Spirit, I confess that I can be quick to hold onto anger and am unforgiving. Teach me to forgive as you forgave. May I rest in your sovereignty and love. Help me to forgive as you forgave. May I be more concerned about following you than what others may think, say or do.