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It came to pass, when they had eaten up the grain which they had brought from Egypt, that

their father said to them, “Go back, buy us a little food.”

But Judah spoke to him, saying, “The man [Joseph] solemnly warned us, saying, ‘You shall not see my face unless your brother is

with you.’ If you send our brother with us, we

will go down and buy you food. But if you will

not send him, we will not go down; for the man

said to us, ‘You shall not see my face unless your brother is with you.’”

Then [Joseph] lifted his eyes and saw his brother Benjamin, his mother’s son. . . . Now his heart yearned for his brother; so Joseph made haste and sought somewhere to weep. And he

went into his chamber and wept there. Then he washed his face and came out; and he

restrained himself, and said, “Serve the bread.”

GENESIS 43:2–5, 29–31 NKJV


God moves us forward by healing our past.

Can he really? This mess? This history of sexual abuse? This raw anger at the father who left my mother? This seething disgust I feel every time I think of the one who treated me like yesterday’s trash? Can God heal this ancient hurt in my heart?

Joseph asked these questions. You never outlive the memory of ten brothers giving you the heave-ho. They walked away and never came back. So, he returned the favor. When he saw them in the breadline, he snapped at them. He accused them of treachery and threw them in jail. “Take that, you rascals!”


Isn’t it good to know that Joseph was human? The guy was so good it hurt. He endured slavery, succeeded in a foreign land, mastered a new language, and resisted sexual seductions. He was the model prisoner and the perfect counsel to the king. Scratch him, and he bled holy blood. We expect him to see his brothers and declare, “Father, forgive them, for they [knew not] what they [did]” (Luke 23:34 NKJV). But he didn’t. He didn’t because forgiving jerks is the hardest trick in the bag.


After three days Joseph released all but one brother from jail. They returned to Canaan to report to Jacob, their father, a weak shadow of an old man. The brothers told him how Simeon was kept in Egypt as assurance they would return with Benjamin, the younger brother.


The brothers returned to Egypt from Canaan, Benjamin in tow. Joseph invited them to a dinner. He asked about Jacob, spotted Benjamin, and all but came undone. “God be gracious to you, my son,” he blurted before he hurried out of the room to weep (Genesis 43:29 NKJV).

He returned to eat and drink and make merry with the brothers. Joseph sat them according to birth order.


He singled out Benjamin for special treatment. Every time the brothers got one helping, Benjamin got five. They noticed this. But said nothing.

Joseph loaded their sacks with food and hid his personal cup in the sack of Benjamin. The brothers were barely down the road when Joseph’s steward stopped their caravan, searched their sacks, and found the cup. The brothers tore their clothes (the ancient equivalent of pulling out one’s hair) and soon found themselves back in front of Joseph, fearing for their lives.


Joseph couldn’t make up his mind! He welcomed them, wept over them, ate with them, and then played a trick on them. He was at war with himself. These brothers had peeled the scab off his oldest and deepest wound. And he would be hanged before he’d let them do it again. On the other hand, these were his brothers, and he would be hanged before he lost them again.


Forgiveness vacillates like this. It has fits and starts, good days and bad. Anger intermingled with love. Irregular mercy. We make progress only to make a wrong turn. Step forward and fall back. But this is okay. When it comes to forgiveness, all of us are beginners. No one owns a secret formula. As long as you are trying to forgive, you are forgiving. It’s when you no longer try that bitterness sets in.


 In Her Own Words:


I became a Christian as a teenager and met my husband at college. When we were in our twenties, we served in the

church and had three kids together.


But I felt that I, like Joseph, had been thrown into a well when my husband left after fifteen years of marriage and began a life that involved drugs and another woman.


No words can describe the shock, disappointment, and anger I experienced. Alone with three kids, no money, and shipwrecked faith, I felt betrayed by the one person who had been “my family.” But I came to realize God never left me. As I scrambled to establish a loving home for my kids and provide them with a sense of security, I began a journey with God that I never would have experienced if not for the tragedy of my divorce.


At first I was so furious with God, but as time went on, I turned to the Bible for comfort, specifically to the psalms of David that would make me cry every time I read them. As I followed David’s example and began to cry to God, he spoke to me in my pain. I can’t explain this well, but I experienced a sense of grace in my life that truly brought me to my knees and transformed me.


That was nearly a decade ago. Since then I have been strong and unwavering in my faith, and I attend a great church. For years I’ve brought up my kids alone, relying on God, who opened the door for me to become a nurse and look after my family. I feel like Joseph in that it’s been hard to raise a family alone. It’s not a prison; more like a waiting room. Yet it has shaped my life in awesome ways.


Being abandoned and let down, seeing life take a seemingly wrong turn—trials and tests of my faith have turned out for good.

One more word. I feel as if my story is still unfolding. Perhaps someday I will get another new beginning. Now I am not only content in who I am but I am also trusting the Lord with my life. He’s proven himself faithful and I love him!


Those who find me find life, and the LORD will be pleased with them. * “The wise must not brag about their wisdom.

The strong must not brag about their strength. The rich must not brag about

their money. But if people want to brag, let them brag that they understand and know me. Let them brag that I am the

LORD, and that I am kind and fair, and that I do things that are right on earth.

This kind of bragging pleases me,” says the LORD. * Wisdom begins with

respect for the LORD, and understanding begins with knowing the Holy One.



You’ve never seen a scene like this. The basketball player stands at the free throw line. His team is down by one

point. Only a few seconds remain on the game clock. Players on both teams crouch, ready to grab the rebound. The shooter positions the ball in his hand. The crowd is quiet. The cheerleaders gulp. Again, you’ve never seen a scene like this. How can I be so sure? Because the player shooting the ball has never seen a scene like this.


He’s blind.

Everyone else on his team is sighted. Everyone on the other team is sighted. But Matt Steven, a high school senior in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania, can’t see a thing. His brother stands under the rim, rapping a cane on the basket. Matt listens, dribbles, and lifts the ball to shoot. We wonder, why does a basketball coach place a blind kid on the foul line?


The short answer? Because the coach is Matt’s big brother. The long answer began years earlier when Matt was born with two permanently detached retinas. He lost his left eye in the fifth grade and his right eye in the sixth. But even though Matt can’t see, his big brother Joe has enough vision for them both. Joe spent a childhood helping Matt do the impossible: ride a bike, ice-skate, and play soccer. So when Joe began coaching the basketball team, he brought his baby brother with him as the equipment manager. Matt never practices or plays with the team. But with Joe’s help he shoots free throws after every practice. Long after the team leaves, the brothers linger —the younger one at the charity line, the older one beneath the basket, tapping a stick against the rim.


And so it is that Matt, for this tournament game, is the designated free throw shooter. Joe convinced the refs and the opponents to let Matt play. Everyone thought it was a great idea. But no one imagined the game would come down to this shot.


So far Matt is 0 for 6. The gym falls silent. Joe hits the iron rim of the basket with the cane. Up in the stands Matt’s mom tries to steady the video camera. Matt dribbles. Pauses and shoots. Swish! The game is tied! The screams of the fans lift the roof of the gymnasium. Finally the crowd settles down so Matt can hear the click, and the scene-never-seen repeats itself. Swish number two! The opposing team grabs the ball and throws a Hail Mary at the other basket and misses. The game is over, and Matt is the hero. Everyone whoops and hollers while Matt—the hero—tries to find his way to the bench. Guess who comes to help him? You got it. Joe. Big brothers can make all the difference.

Need one? You aren’t trying to make a basket, but you are trying to make a living or make a friend or make sense out of the bad breaks you’ve been getting. Could you use the help and protection of a strong sibling? Look to heaven.


“Jesus, who makes people holy, and those who are made holy are from the same family. So he is not ashamed to call them his brothers and sisters” (Hebrews 2:11). Jesus, the Prince of Heaven, is your brother. He calls for you. “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest (Matthew 11:28 NLT). And he cares for you. In him, “we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (1 John 2:1 NKJV). Your Brother promises to “supply all your need according to His riches” (Philippians 4:19 NKJV). Let’s trust him to take care of us.


“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper

you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”


To the degree that we believe and accept God’s vision for our lives, we will get through life.

When people junk us into the pit, we will stand up. God can use this for good. When family members sell us out, we will climb to our feet.

God will recycle this pain.


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