Then they said to one another, “In truth we are guilty concerning our brother, in that we saw the distress of his soul, when he begged us and we did not listen. That is why this distress has come upon us.” And Reuben answered them, “Did I not tell you not to sin against the boy? But you did not listen. So now there comes a reckoning for his blood.” They did not know that Joseph understood them, for there was an interpreter between them. Genesis 42:21-13
At this point, Joseph’s brothers accepted the responsibility for the hard times they were experiencing. They reviewed their past sins against Joseph and connected the dots between wrongdoing and consequences. Wouldn’t everybody, given the same circumstances? Don’t most people, with age, own their mistakes? Unfortunately, no.
I’ve known many people who, after many decades, decided to confront a childhood abuser. There was magical thinking in their expectations. They believed that someone in their senior years would own the truth. They assumed that godly guilt would have set in at some point but hopes for closure and healing were smashed when the confrontation went poorly. Then came a lament and a new kind of grief. “How can a 67-year-old man still deny that he did anything wrong?” He did, and we do as well, if we haven’t spent our lives listening to the Holy Spirit and submitting to His instruction. Truth can be shunned no matter the age. Only a humble truth seeker owns his past sins.
Is there a way to tell ahead of time whether someone will be receptive to the truth when confronted? While not entirely ironclad, I believe there is. Does that person have a track record of humility? Have there been smaller things that the person has been willing to own and apologize for? Those are encouraging signs.
The sad truth about people in general, even the elderly, is that ‘men love darkness rather than light.’ I should always pray that the Spirit of God will open the blind eyes of the one who has hurt me. God is powerful, and prayer will often till up the hardened soil of unbelief. Reconciliation is always the goal but not always achievable. If a confrontation occurs, it needs to be on the other side of forgiveness When the heart is hot ~ I know to keep silent.
Older doesn’t always mean wiser. Keep me from cynicism. Comfort me in my waiting and in my disappointment. Amen
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