When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “What if Joseph holds a grudge against us and pays us back for all the wrongs we did to him?” So they sent word to Joseph, saying, “Your father left these instructions before he died: ‘This is what you are to say to Joseph: I ask you to forgive your brothers the sins and the wrongs they committed in treating you so badly.’ Now please forgive the sins of the servants of the God of your father.” When their message came to him, Joseph wept. His brothers then came and threw themselves down before him. “We are your slaves,” they said. But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. So then, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children.” And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them. – Genesis 50:15-21
I’ve never understood the appeal of daytime soap operas. Some of these shows have been running for decades, many of which featuring the same characters experiencing some of the most amazing lives imaginable. One would think that romantic and professional ups and downs would be enough drama for most people, but not the writers of the soaps. Love triangles, kidnapping, amnesia, visits by aliens, plots to break up couples, identity swapping, even demon possession are all common place among the daytime shows. How is this entertaining? I couldn’t imagine anyone getting caught up in these shows, wishing they could trade lives with any of these people? Is it just to make them feel better about their own lives: “I’m struggling to pay my bills, but at least my husband’s evil twin didn’t sneak into my house to steal my baby to sell it on the black market to buy a new speed boat” (If I see this show up on a plotline somewhere, I’ll expect a royalty check).
Soap operas don’t often emulate real life, but sometimes the stories do compare. Think of the Joseph and his brothers – it’s totally “soapy.” This story provides an excellent example of God’s desire for forgiveness. If anyone had reason to seek revenge against anyone, it would be both Jacob and Joseph against the rest of the brothers. Joseph lost years of his life in captivity and incarceration, while Jacob needlessly carried the burden of losing a son who was still alive. It’s the stuff of daytime soap operas and the kind of thing that the world defines as unforgiveable. Of course, the offense doesn’t have to be this severe to get people to treat each other badly and refuse to forgive or reconcile. It’s unfortunate too, because this simple decision turns into a reaping and sowing situation. If you sow wheat, you harvest wheat. If you sow forgiveness, you harvest forgiveness. If you sow weeds, you’ll harvest weeds. If you sow resentment and spite, you’re garden will be filled with those things. Taking the analogy a little further – once grown, the fruit becomes the food upon which we live for a season, filling our bodies and our lives with more of the same.
This is certainly not God’s plan for us – an interesting thought for us to add when you consider the message sent to Joseph by his brothers. In fact, it could have read, “Your Fathers left these instructions…” It was Jacob’s desire that the siblings resolve their differences, but this was also God’s desire. So with tears, Joseph submitted himself to the wills of his Fathers, demonstrating his total forgiveness in love toward his brothers. Rivals no more, they lived out the rest of their lives as a family. God blessed them and from this time their family developed into the great nation that He had promised Abraham generations ago.