Genesis 45:3 Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph. Is my father still alive?” But his brothers could not answer him, so dismayed were they at his presence. 4 Then Joseph said to his brothers, “Come closer to me.” And they came closer. He said, “I am your brother, Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt….13 You must tell my father how greatly I am honored in Egypt, and all that you have seen. Hurry and bring my father down here.” 14 Then he fell upon his brother Benjamin’s neck and wept, while Benjamin wept upon his neck. 15 And he kissed all his brothers and wept upon them; and after that his brothers talked with him.
Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery many years before. And now, after Joseph had become second only to Pharaoh in Egypt, they were openly reunited. It’s a lovely scene of forgiveness and reconciliation. Two things strike me about this passage.
First, this is one troubled family. Jacob the father openly favored his young son Joseph over his older brothers. Joseph was an immature brat who didn’t mind flaunting his favored status in front of his brothers – who hated him. Then his brothers sold him into slavery in retribution. There is more here, but you get the picture. This is not a “Leave it to Beaver” family. It’s messed up.
Secondly, despite all the bad blood and difficult history, reconciliation takes place. Yes, it took a long time to happen, but it happened.
Every family has problems and issues and baggage accumulated over the decades. Most families find ways to deal with the conflicts and remain mostly together. But sometimes the difficulties are so great a family breaks apart. People do and say things they can’t take back. People get cut off from the rest of the family. Others choose to leave, never to return.
Today’s story reminds me that, with the power of God and a commitment to forgiveness, dividing walls can come down and relationships restored. This morning I’m thinking of places where restoration is needed in my own family. How about yours?
Dear Lord, families are precious things as well as fragile things. Where there is trauma, bring healing. Where there is division, bring unity. Where there is resentment, bring forgiveness. In our own power we cannot do it. The scars are too deep, the wounds too severe. Give us grace to be agents of peace in our families. We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.