Lessons from the Life of Joseph

I have been studying the life of Joseph for a few months now, and even as I write this tears begin to well up in me for the beauty of his story and the hand of God in his life. Joseph had a heart for God, for when he saw his brothers after all those years and after he had been through so much affliction, distress, and anguish because of THEM, he wept! He was moved at the sight of them. This didn’t come because of anger or a revenge. He still loved them! After all they had done to him, and after all the years of separation from his father and his brother Benjamin. He understood God’s plan. He did not stay offended, although he had justifiable grounds to be offended, he did not keep the offense.

Imagine that Joseph had kept that offense, he could have become a tyrant or dictator, perhaps never have come into power in Egypt. He may have died in a prison fighting fellow prisoners out of the bitterness of his soul. He chose to trust God in everything, for God had given him a vision. He knew God and he knew God could be trusted. Joseph prospered everywhere he went, in Potiphar’s house, in prison!! He was a man of honesty, integrity, and commitment to God.

I could do well to learn from his example. I may never have been betrayed and thrown into a pit by family members, experienced the rotteness and filth of an Egyptian prison, or be forced to do hard labor, be unjustly accused for a crime I didn’t commit–but I can choose to stay in love, to not take offense, to allow God’s plan to unfold in my life. Trusting Him to be my avenger, in situations where I have been treated unfairly, falsely accused, or had my feelings hurt. I can choose to walk in love, in forgiveness.

There are only blessings, honor, and riches ahead for me as I choose God’s way.

What one among us has not had the opportunity to hold a grudge, stay hurt, feel rejected? When we choose through the power of the Holy Spirit to forgive and let go, to surrender our hurt feelings to God and trust Him to defend us, we experience a great release. Yes, the enemy will attempt to bring back those emotions, as if we had never made the decision, but we need to remind ourselves that we are not our own, we’ve been bought with a price.

We said “I choose to forgive, I choose to bless those who spitefully use me.” You may have heard it said “Love is a decision, not an emotion.”

Yes, emotions can be part of love, but emotions fade. They are like riding a rollercoaster. One minute you feel great, the next you feel down.

Commitments cannot be made from emotions alone.

If Jesus, hanging on the cross in the most acute, unimaginable agony could say “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do?” can we do any less? Especially because He made the way for us to do it. If today, you are hurting, angry, resentful, bitter–choose to forgive, the feelings will follow–the decision is yours and mine. God will not force us for we have a free will. But what is our alternative? Live in bitterness and watch it slowly eat us alive? (I believe a lot of sickness in our lives can be a result of bitterness unchecked.)

God has provided a better way. We have the power within us by His Spirit to do it.