Adapted from the Story of Joseph in Genesis 37-46
Once raging jealousy burned in the hearts behind those eyes that peered into the pit they had dug for my destruction. Now I’m staring back into those ten sets of eyes with the power to repay and a choice to make. What path I would take, even I didn’t know. Vengeance you say – an eye for an eye. Here, here! They say vengeance is sweet. But sweeter still may be forgiveness freely given to those once overcome by jealous hearts. Which choice would I make?
I can’t help that I”m a dreamer. And I was too young to understand how to steward such a gift. The night I envisioned ten stars bowed low to me was the eve of my greatest failure. The unbridled words in the pasture that day which proclaimed my glory over theirs was the spark that lit the fire of their resentful fury. The pit they dug in which to watch me die was just a worm hole compared to the choice they made to sell me to the gypsies. Slavery was now my lot and the ones i played with as a boy became the traitors who heartlessly sold my freedom. A few coins was all it cost to steal away their love.
My hardships taught me to serve and my service earned my promotion in the ranks of my captors. From slave to servant to steward to supervisor, I climbed and embraced the honor bestowed upon me. I survived the rising and then was faced with the falling. I was falsely accused and locked up to pay for an offense I did not commit. And then the very gift that led to abandon, became the gift that birthed hope in the midst of the pain.
Another dream, but this time not mine. The interpretation was now the key. Not one, but two. First given to a fellow prisoner and then to the King. My fate was sealed the night the King dreamed. Only I could give the true meaning. And that night the interpretation became clear. Seven years of abundance and seven of drought. Seven years of harvest and seven of want. I wondered what he would think – what he would do. In fear, the words spilled off my tongue. The next moments fell silent. And then he spoke, “Who else is so wise as Joseph?” the king proclaimed. The obvious answer to the tragedy stood before the king. Promoted again, I found myself at the top with the authority to judge and the power to punish.
The path forward was hidden in that interpretation that vaulted me to the top. Store away the excess and prepare for the crisis ahead. And that we did. Oh my, did we! The barns filled and we built the storehouses. The storehouses filled and we built some more. And when the time came to reap from our labor, the nations came. From near and far they came with resources to barter, trade and buy.
Lines of elders formed as we sold food to cities, villages and families. I looked up from my desk, and ten men caught my eye. And those twenty eyes took me back to the day I stood in the pit.
Men from Canaan, standing tall like me. Such a familiarity. Why did my heart grow sad. Could it be? I was sure I was losing my mind. Rage exploded like dynamite. Then a tender love. Then both at the same time. Panic stricken, my mind froze and my words fled. “I must stall,” I thought. “I must give my heart time to sort it out.” So I devised a plan.
Time will not permit me to tell you what happened in the next weeks. Two trips home and back brought them once again to my chamber. I stood before my brothers, my wounders, my friends – and I wept. I shed tears that flowed from the deep recesses of abandonment, rejection and joy for their return.
I knew without doubt what choice must be made. I rejoiced that I’d been given grace to know the way.
They say we are all products of our past, and to some measure that’s true. But if it ends there, hope is dead. Is forgiveness dangerous? Yes! Is redemption real? Yes! Is love worth it? I’ll let you sort that out just as I had to wrestle with the demons of my pain.
What I can tell you with full resolve is that somehow my forgiveness released me from a prison. That prison had bars much stronger than the one I sat in after being falsely accused. The day I thrust my sobbing eyes into the shoulders of my most egregious offenders was the day the shackles of offense fell from the doorway of my heart and joy came flooding in like the light of the morning sun.
Yes. Sweeter still is forgiveness freely given to those once overcome by jealous hearts. Although I wouldn’t wish the pain I’ve experienced and the struggles I’ve fought on my fiercest enemy, I am thankful for the journey. And more thankful for the wounds. For without the wounds the healing wouldn’t come.
Someone once said, “What’s lost is nothing to what’s found, and all the death that ever was, set next to life, would scarcely fill a cup.” I say bitterness embraced is powerless to forgiveness bestowed. Of course it’s unfair, if not, it wouldn’t be freely given. The payoff is the freedom we find when we recklessly give away what is not deserved.