Joseph The Dreamer

His name was Joseph ... the favorite son of Jacob.

Joseph was always the center of his father's love and attention. Jacob even gave Joseph a colorful coat or garment that came to symbolize how special he was in his father's eyes. Joseph's brothers resented him because he was the favorite son. Reading the account of Joseph's life in Genesis 37 with my husband this weekend, taught me something of great value. I wanted to share it with all of you.

Joseph, “the dreamer,” once told his brothers about a dream he had.

"Please, listen to my dream," Joseph said. "We were in the field binding sheaves. Suddenly, my sheaf rose and stood straight, and your sheaves stood all around and bowed down to my sheaf."

"What are you trying to tell us?" one of his brothers asked angrily. "That you will reign over us?"

Joseph was indeed telling them that a day would come when they would all bow down to him. This dream made his brothers grow more angry towards him. One day, Joseph was sent by his father on an errand. Specifically, Joseph was tasked to visit his brothers who were working in the field. His brothers plotted to kill him but later decided to throw Joseph into a pit. They also took his colorful coat and wiped it with animal blood. They later lied to their father by saying that Joseph died after being attacked by wild animals. After some time at the bottom of the pit, Joseph was picked up by traveling merchants and later sold him into slavery. The young lad was later sold by the merchants to Potiphar, one of the Egyptian Pharaoh's trusted leaders. As a worker in Potiphar's household, he became distinguished in his labors. He was later appointed supervisor over Potiphar's household. The story takes a drastic turn when Potiphar's wife falsely accused Joseph of attempting to sexually assault her. Of course, Potiphar's wife did this to get back at Joseph who repeatedly warded off her sexual advances. Enraged by the accusation, Potiphar sent Joseph to prison.

In prison, Joseph again found favor by being able interpret the dreams of the Pharaoh. The Pharaoh was so full of stress and anxiety about the horrible dreams he had and the visions he could not understand. Through Joseph, the Pharaoh was able to understand the economic implications of his dreams for the land of Egypt. Later, he was appointed king of Egypt. Famine had struck the land where his family once lived and this brought his brothers to Egypt. They did not recognize their brother now, but Joseph recognized them.

and this is my favorite part...

Joseph opened his arms and said, “I am your brother, the one you sold into Egypt! Don’t be afraid!” And then he told them, “There are still five years of famine to come. For another five years the earth will be dry as bones, and no food will grow. But God told me everything that was going to happen, and I have stored up grain for us all. “Don’t you see? You didn’t send me here, God did! It was all God’s plan from the very beginning. God sent me on ahead to save his people! “What you meant for evil, God meant for good!” With tears of joy in his eyes, Joseph threw his arms around his brother Benjamin, and then his older brothers too. He forgave them for everything they had done.

What a beautiful story of forgiveness. After every evil intention that the brothers had for Joseph, after all of the years of lies and deceit, he was still able to forgive and love them. Even when he had done nothing wrong... when they hated him simply because of their own jealousy, he was able to forgive them. The Bible says that Joseph " fell on his brother Benjamin's neck and wept, and Benjamin wept on his neck." -Genesis 45:15.

What kind of heart does it take to forgive brothers for wanting to kill you or send you away forever, and yet, we cannot seem to forgive a co-worker for hurtful words on a bad day, or forgive our spouses for forgetting our birthday? This story of Joesph the Dreamer reminded me of the perfect promise of forgiveness and mercy if we will be forgiving and merciful to those who have hurt us.

I think that the most important thing that I learned from this story, was that Joseph did not once complain or rebuke his brothers for their actions. He did not bring up the actions of them so that they could understand how he felt when sold away to Egypt. He never required an apology. Many times in my life, I find myself forgiving someone only when they have understood how much they have hurt me. But is this real forgiveness? When we do something to hurt God, does He teach us a lesson before He will forgive us? Does He make sure we know how much we have hurt Him before He shows His mercy? Absolutely not. And thus, the REAL definition of forgiveness, I have never understood before. Thank you, Lord, for this beautiful lesson.

"Sincere forgiveness isn't colored with expectations that the other person apologize or change. Don't worry whether or not they finally understand you. Love them and release them. Life feeds back truth to people in its own way and time—just like it does for you and me." --Sara Paddison

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