The brothers sent a message to Joseph, saying, ‘Your father gave this command before he died. Say to Joseph, “Please forgive the transgression of your brothers and their sin, because they did evil to you.” ‘ And now, please forgive the transgression of the servant of the God of your Father.” Joseph wept when they spoke to him. Genesis 50:16-17 

Joseph is seeing the fulfillment of his childhood dream. The brothers are bowing down to him and pledging to become his servants. Forty years earlier, God had given him a dream that showed every brother prostrate before him. Without stopping to think twice, he had shared it with his brothers. Perhaps he had gloated as he related it. Children do. Whatever his posture, it got him thrown into a pit and sold into slavery. But here’s the thing ~ What Joseph felt then and what he feels now are two completely different things. As a child, it was a fairy tale to think of subjects bowing down to him. As an adult, one refined by God through excruciating events, it was a tragedy to see brothers groveling.  He loved them and did not want to see them suffer.

It’s quite amazing how I can see the same event differently, depending on what stage of life I am in. As a young woman, I heard others predict that God would bless me with notoriety and influence. While it was hard for me to believe it, part of me dreamed it was true and I made it all about me. Instead of seeing this as an opportunity for serving others, something God always intends when He confers a position of influence, I thought of what it would be like to be influential. I desperately lacked mentoring.

That was forty six years ago and how my perspective has changed. What I failed to realize then is that when God calls one to lead, He sets about to shape that person through adversity. How I view the blessing today is entirely different than how I saw it as a twenty-one-year-old. In my youth, it fed narcissism. That quickly faded with suffering. I’ve learned to handle influence with trembling hands.

Joseph wept when he saw his brothers fall to their knees in front of him. His tears were not tears of sweet revenge. They were tears of empathy and compassion. Never could he imagine feeling such a thing when he was bound, thrown into the back of a cart, and dragged to Egypt as a slave. God shapes every child and the needed changes never happen quickly. A bad month, or year of drought, does not usually bring transformation. A decade or two in the wilderness does however. Acting like Jesus can be easy if you’re an actor. Thinking and feeling like Jesus takes a lifetime of refining.

You do all things well. In Jesus name, Amen

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