I came to the end of Genesis a few days ago, and I have to admit that I’m a little sad. It’s not as if I didn’t know that Joseph died. It has been a few years, after all. But I was sad to come to the end of his life, nonetheless. I needed a few days to process what I was feeling.
Before Joseph dies, Jacob dies. And before Jacob dies, Joseph learns that his father is sick and so takes his two sons, Menasseh and Ephraim to see Jacob one last time. Jacob blesses Ephraim and Menasseh, placing Ephraim, the younger son, above Menasseh. Joseph stopped him and told him that Menasseh was the older and asked Jacob to change his hands around so that his right hand was on Menasseh.
19 And his father refused, and said, I know it, my son, I know it: he also shall become a people, and he also shall be great: but truly his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his seed shall become a multitude of nations.
Jacob dies and Pharoah allows Joseph to bury him in the land of Canaan. When Joseph returns to Egypt, his brothers are certain that, with Jacob gone, Joseph will finally admit the truth–that he hates them and plans to hurt them to extract revenge.
Joseph certainly could have made their lives miserable. He’s wealthy. He’s powerful. It’s pretty clear by now that Pharoah would back his play. But Joseph says only,
19 And Joseph said unto them, Fear not: for am I in the place of God?
20 But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.
Don’t worry. Is it my place to pay you back for what you did to me? It sounds so simple when Joseph says it, but it’s pretty tough to live this way in real life. I can get annoyed with the lady in front of me at WalMart for not putting that little plastic separator on the belt at the end of her groceries. Which means that I have to reach a-l-l the way over her stuff to get that little blue piece of plastic. I’m embarrassed to admit how often my reaching has been accompanied by much eye-rolling. Because, you know, when somebody does something annoying, we feel compelled to make sure they know how annoying they really are.
We do this whether it’s somebody at the grocery store, somebody in traffic, somebody who takes the parking space we were eyeballing. Somebody who talks bad about us. Somebody who offends us. We get caught up in our day-to-day lives worrying about all kinds of minor infractions. They’re such silly things, really. They don’t even come close to kidnapping, human trafficking, and lying to your father for twenty years or so.
Joseph’s story is all about forgiveness. It’s also about trust. After reading about Joseph and thinking about his life, I find myself wondering just how deep my own trust is in God. It’s deeper than it used to be, but I’m nowhere near Joseph’s standard of trust and forgiveness yet. But, then, it’s always good to have something to aspire to.