What do you do when people treat you badly? How do you respond when you are in a position to give them a dose of their own medicine? An eye for an eye? Do you bury the hurt deep in your heart and let it simmer till it explodes? Or perhaps try to forget not forgiving what was done to you? Or even try to forgive while trying harder to forget? Like mission impossible?
How about if the people who caused you pain are the people close to you? People you love? How painful, is it not?!
In Genesis 37, Joseph, a young lad of 17, was sold into slavery by his brothers because of jealousy. He became a slave in a foreign land – a long shot from being the favoured son of the family. After becoming the favoured employee, he was wrongly accused of adultery with his employer’s wife and imprisoned. For 13 years, from the pit to the prison to the palace, he suffered a lot – physical, mental and emotional pain, betrayed by his brothers, separated from his family to be among strangers in a foreign land, punished for wrongs he didn’t do.
When time came for him to confront his ‘enemies’ – the brothers who caused him so much suffering, what did he do? How did he treat them? What did he say?
Then Joseph said to his brothers, “Come close to me.” When they had done so, he said, “I am your brother Joseph, the one you sold into Egypt! And now, 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. For two years now there has been famine in the land, and for the next five years there will be no plowing and reaping. But 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. He made me father to Pharaoh, lord of his entire household and ruler of all Egypt. Now hurry back to my father and say to him, ‘This is what your son Joseph says: God has made me lord of all Egypt.
Joseph forgave his brothers because he saw the God behind all his sufferings – the God who saves, the One who sent him to save lives, the God who was with him throughout the journey. God in His providence, provided the way for Joseph to forgive without any regret or bitterness.
To forgive and not to forget – it is mission possible – only through the lens of the Godly perspective.