Genesis 50:19 But Joseph said to them, “Do not be afraid! Am I in the place of God? 20 Even though you intended to do harm to me, God intended it for good, in order to preserve a numerous people, as he is doing today. 21 So have no fear; I myself will provide for you and your little ones.” In this way he reassured them, speaking kindly to them.
If you’ve been reading the story of Joseph and his brothers in the book of Genesis you know that his brothers did him dirty. Joseph would certainly be justified in taking revenge, particularly now that his father is dead. But instead of taking revenge Joseph offers forgiveness.
By forgiving his brothers Joseph stops the potential cycle of violence.
News headlines today describe Russia’s recent invasion of the Ukraine. So far it’s a relatively minor invasion, but it’s an invasion nonetheless. Vladimir Putin doesn’t appear to be deterred by economic sanctions, at least not those being imposed thus far. Will further sanctions discourage Russia from taking more of Ukraine? I doubt it. Putin appears far more willing to risk violence than the Western NATO allies, including the US. I feel like I’ve seen this movie before, particularly in 20th century history. The US is slow out of the gate because we try to avoid war, while the aggressors take the early initiative.
The question I’m wrestling with this morning is, “What does forgiveness look like in this situation?” Can there be forgiveness among nations when one nation remains willing, if not eager, to employ violence to achieve its purposes? Lord bring a spirit of peace to our world, where violence seems to be the rule. Amen.