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Some years ago a dear friend of mine was called to the funeral home to identify the body of his father, who had

been shot in the middle of the night by his ex-wife. The shotgun blast was just one in a long line of angry outbursts and violent family moments. My friend remembers standing near the body and resolving, It stops with me. (And it has.)


Make the same resolve. Yes, your family history has some sad chapters. But your history doesn’t have to be your future. The generational garbage can stop here and now. You don’t have to give your kids what your ancestors gave you.


Let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.


Talk to God about the scandals and scoundrels. Invite him to relive the betrayal with you. Bring it out in the open.


Difficult for certain. But let God do his work. The process may take a long time. It may take a lifetime. Family pain is the deepest pain because it was inflicted so early and because it involves people who should have been trustworthy.


When they judged you falsely, you believed them. All this time you’ve been operating on faulty data. “You’re stupid . . . slow . . . dumb like your daddy . . . fat like your momma . . .” Decades later these voices of defeat still echo in our subconscious.


But they don’t have to! “Let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think” (Romans 12:2 NLT). You are not who they said you were. You are God’s child. His creation. Destined for heaven. You are a part of his family.

In Her Own Words:


As a child, I grew up in a wonderful Christian home. My parents took me to church, taught me about God, and

instructed me to love people unconditionally. To this day, I am extremely grateful for the solid foundation for faith that God and my parents provided me. God knew that the road I would walk was going to be rough, and he was preparing me. Then he allowed me to go through a mess, so that one day I would have a message, a testimony that revealed to me as well as to others God’s great glory. You see, at the young age of seven, I had my innocence ripped away from me.


That’s when the sexual abuse by a family member began. Fortunately, after a year and a half, my family moved across the country. I thought that the abuse was behind me, that I could move on with my life and just forget about it. But that was not the case.


I had not told anyone about the abuse, and I wouldn’t for several years. And during those years God allowed me to go through several other difficult situations, from almost drowning in class-four rapids, to being held at gunpoint in a robbery at a fast-food restaurant, being raped by a friend who had told me he was getting baptized the following week, and marrying a man who, after we got married, became verbally and somewhat physically abusive and who had relations outside of the marriage.


Through all these traumatic events, I learned to hide my feelings, my insecurities, my shame, and my pain. I had put on a mask, and I had turned away from God. No wonder I was in a downward spiral of destruction. The breaking point came when my father was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. I immediately decided to move home to help take care of him. Nine months after the diagnosis, he passed away. God used the members of my parents’ church to show me his love. God also helped me write a song for my dad’s funeral, “Blessings in Tragedy.”


A few months after my father’s death, God prompted me to move to a new city for a fresh start in life. I have lived here two years, and God has worked in my life in major ways. I am divorced, I am going to school full-time to become an RN, and I am working full-time. God has placed certain people in my life to help me look at life from a different perspective. I now understand that, with his infinite power, God can work through the most difficult of circumstances and turn them into something beautiful.


I am still a work in progress, but I’m hopeful because I know God is not done with me. The healing transformation that needs to come after life’s heartaches and pain is not easy or quick, but God will help us through it. I readily give him all the credit, because I know I was an absolute mess before he took hold of my heart.


God has made us what we are. In Christ

Jesus, God made us to do good works, which God planned in advance for us to

live our lives doing. He who touches you touches the apple of His eye. That

person will pray to God, and God will

listen to him. He will see God’s face and

will shout with happiness. And God will set things right for him again. I know

Jesus, the One in whom I have believed.

And I am sure he is able to protect what he has trusted me with until that day.

The One who was sitting on the throne said, “Look! I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this, because these words are true and can be trusted.”


NKJV; JOB 33:26; 2 TIMOTHY 1:12; REVELATION 21:5


Jacob said to his sons . . . “Indeed I have heard that there is grain in Egypt; go down to that place and buy for us there, that we may live

and not die.” So Joseph’s ten brothers went

down to buy grain in Egypt. Now Joseph was

governor over the land; and it was he who sold to all the people of the land. And Joseph’s

brothers came and bowed down before him

with their faces to the earth. Joseph saw his

brothers and recognized them, but he acted as a stranger to them and spoke roughly to them.

GENESIS 42:1–3; 6–7 NKJV

Initially, Joseph chose not to face his past. By the time he saw his brothers again, Joseph had been prime minister for nearly a decade. . . . He could travel anywhere he wanted, yet he chose not to return to Canaan. Assemble an army and settle the score with his brothers? He had the resources. Send for his father? Or at least send a message? He’d had perhaps eight years to set the record straight. He knew where to find his family, but he chose not to contact them. He kept family secrets a secret. Untouched and untreated. Joseph was content to leave his past in the past.


But God was not. Restoration matters to God. The healing of the heart involves the healing of the past. So God shakes things up.

“All countries came to Joseph in Egypt to buy grain, because the famine was severe in all lands” (Genesis 41:57 NKJV). And in the long line of folks appealing for an Egyptian handout, look what the cat dragged in. “So Joseph’s ten brothers went down to buy grain in Egypt” (42:3 NKJV).


Joseph heard them before he saw them. He was fielding a question from a servant when he detected the Hebrew chatter. Not just the language of his heart but the dialect of his home. The prince motioned for the servant to stop speaking. He turned and looked. There they stood.


The brothers were balder, grayer, rough skinned. They were pale and gaunt with hunger. Sweaty robes clung to their shins, and road dust chalked their cheeks. These Hebrews stuck out in sophisticated Egypt like hillbillies at Times Square. When their time came to ask Joseph for grain, they didn’t recognize him. His beard was shaved, his robe was royal, and the language he spoke was Egyptian. Black makeup extended from the sides of his eyes. He wore a black wig that sat on his head like a helmet. It never occurred to them that they were standing before their baby brother.


Thinking the prince couldn’t understand Hebrew, the brothers spoke to him with their eyes and gestures. They pointed at the stalks of grain and then at their mouths. They motioned to the brother who carried the money, and he stumbled forward and spilled the coins on the table.

When Joseph saw the silver, his lips curled and his stomach turned. He had named his son God Made Me Forget, but the money made him remember. The last time he saw coins in the hands of Jacob’s older boys, they were laughing, and he was whimpering. That day at the pit he searched these faces for a friend, but he found none. And now they dared bring silver to him?

Joseph called for a Hebrew-speaking servant to translate. Then Joseph scowled at his brothers. “He acted as a stranger to them and spoke roughly to them” (v. 7).


I’m imagining the tone of a night watchman aroused from his midnight nap. “Who are ya? Where do ya’ come from?” The brothers fell face-first in the dirt, which brought to Joseph’s mind a childhood dream.


“Uh, well, we’re from up the road in Canaan. Maybe you’ve heard of it?”

Joseph glared at them. “Nah, I don’t believe you. Guards, put these spies under arrest. They are here to infiltrate our country.”

All ten brothers spoke at once. “You got it all wrong, Your High, Holy, and Esteemed Honor. We’re salt of the earth. We belong to the same family. That’s Simeon over there, that’s Judah . . . Well, there are twelve of us in all. At least there used to be. The youngest is now with our father, and one is no longer living” (v. 13 HCSB).


Joseph gulped at the words. This was the first report on his family he had heard in twenty years. Jacob was alive. Benjamin was alive. And they thought he was dead.


“Tell you what,” he snapped. “I’ll let one of you go back and get your brother and bring him here. The rest of you I’ll throw in jail.”

With that, Joseph had their hands bound. A nod of his head, and they were marched off to jail. Perhaps the same jail where he had spent at least two years of his life.


What a curious series of events. The gruff voice, harsh treatment. The jail sentence. The abrupt dismissal. We’ve seen this sequence before with Joseph and his brothers, only the roles were reversed. On the first occasion they conspired against him. This time he conspired against them. They spoke angrily. He turned the tables. They threw him in the hole and ignored his cries for help. Now it was his turn to give them the cold shoulder.


What was going on?

I think he was trying to get his bearings. This was the toughest challenge of his life. The famine, by comparison, was easy. Mrs. Potiphar he could resist. Pharaoh’s assignments he could manage. But this mixture of hurt and hate that surged when he saw his flesh and blood? Joseph didn’t know what to do.

Maybe you don’t either.

Your family failed you. Your early years were hard ones.

The people who should have cared for you didn’t. But, like Joseph, you made the best of it. You’ve made a life for yourself. Even started your own family. You are happy to leave Canaan in the rearview mirror. But God isn’t.


He gives us more than we request by going deeper than we ask. He wants not only your whole heart; he wants your heart whole. Why? Hurt people hurt people. Think about it. Why do you fly off the handle? Why do you avoid conflict? Why do you seek to please everyone? Might your tendencies have something to do with an unhealed hurt in your heart? God wants to help you for your sake.


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