Genesis 50: 15-21 (NRSV)
15 Realizing that their father was dead, Joseph’s brothers said, “What if Joseph still bears a grudge against us and pays us back in full for all the wrong that we did to him?” 16 So they approached Joseph, saying, “Your father gave this instruction before he died, 17 ‘Say to Joseph: I beg you, forgive the crime of your brothers and the wrong they did in harming you.’ Now therefore please forgive the crime of the servants of the God of your father.” Joseph wept when they spoke to him. 18 Then his brothers also wept, fell down before him, and said, “We are here as your slaves.” 19 But Joseph said to them, “Do not be afraid! Am I in the place of God? 20 Even though you intended to do harm to me, God intended it for good, in order to preserve a numerous people, as he is doing today. 21 So have no fear; I myself will provide for you and your little ones.” In this way he reassured them, speaking kindly to them.
JOSEPH: I could have made them pay. With my Father dead and buried I could easily have taken my revenge. I could have punished them for the hurt and the pain they inflicted on me when they sold me into slavery. Punished them for the years they stole from me while I was imprisoned. But what would be the point?
It would just cause more hurt, more pain. A cycle of revenge. They have had to live with what they did on their conscience. I might have wanted revenge when I was younger, but I’m older now. I understand them better. In my youthful arrogance I did flaunt my Father’s love over them. My dreams made them feel small. They should never have done what they did to me, but like I say, they have had to live with the consequences of what they did. They had to live with our Father’s grief.
And yes, in the beginning it was terrible, to have my liberty stripped from me. But God used the situation for good. Even though I was a slave, a prisoner, he put me in front of the right people. He gave me the gifts to first lift myself out of my troubles and then save the nation from famine. God overruled their wicked intentions to bring about good.
So, I cannot hold a grudge, because God has used my life. I understand that. They are my brothers, my Father’s sons. They have learned a painful lesson from what they did to me. I cannot hold my power over them, like the way I did with our Father’s love as a child. I’m not God, I’m just a man. Only God has the power and God used the situation they put me in for good. If God can do that, then I can let it go. I forgive them for what they did to me. They are my Father’s sons. I forgive them.
Forgive me for my inability to let go of past hurts,
The kindness I could not do,
The words of understanding I could not speak
And the offer of forgiveness I could not make