For the past few months, I have been trying to read through the Old Testament. I started with Ruth and continued on through Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Daniel and just finished up Genesis. I've heard many of the stories in the Old Testament and dabbled in it before but never truly read through the books myself. I have been enjoying this study time although sometimes it's difficult hearing so many "begets". :D
It was revealed to me this past summer the struggle that I have been having with forgiveness and past hurts. I think that forgiveness is a struggle for many people because it isn't something that you can do alone. True forgiveness comes from God, and it is only through His strength that we can truly forgive others. Without giving too many details for the sake of time, and also at the risk of gossip, I had my feelings hurt a while back by who I would consider close friends. It was a hard transitional time in my life dealing with those hurts. I cried about it and thought about it for many months. However, I also prayed about it and felt that I was working through the pain and forgiving those who hurt me.... Who probably didn't even know they had hurt me. I remember specifically speaking with Daniel about it and even giving him advice on forgiveness and about how we just have to give it to God and not harbor bad feelings.
This past summer, for whatever reason-- bitterness began to rise in my heart. I was dwelling on the hurts from the past, and thinking malicious thoughts of the people who hurt me. I had no idea where it came from. I couldn't believe that I felt so terribly about those people, especially since the events were far in the past and I had supposedly already forgiven. Since then it has been a daily struggle to not let these emotions get the best of me. With that said, I finished Genesis today and God's sovereignty was revealed to me once again.
Genesis 37 tells the story of Joseph being sold by his brothers to Egypt. Joseph had 12 brothers and they conspired against him. They were originally going to kill him, but decided against it. Joseph ended up making his way to the top in Egypt (Genesis 41) and was essentially hired by the Pharaoh to be somewhat a governor in Egypt. Joseph achieved this high position by interpreting dreams for the Pharaoh. The interpretation of one of the dreams was about a famine coming over the land for 7 years. In Genesis 42 the famine is in full force and Joseph's brothers travel to Egypt for food for the family. Their father Jacob sent them. Joseph recognizes them but they do not recognize him. Long story short, he assists them and helps them out all that he can. He provides them with sacks of food and even gives them there money back so that they get the food for free. The brothers come back again, and he takes care of them again. In the end (leaving out a few details) Jacob dies and Joseph goes to bury him in the land of Canaan. After Jacob's death, the brothers are a bit nervous that Joseph may lash out on them for what they did to him when he was young, selling him to the Egyptians. They go to Joseph to ask him about it and Joseph says,
"Do not be afraid, for am I in the place of
God? But as for you, you meant evil against
me; but God meant it for good, in order to
bring it about as it is this day, to save
many people alive. Now therefore, do not be
afraid; I will provide for you and your little
ones." -Genesis 50:19-21
Joseph forgave his brothers and went above and beyond that. He rescued them and took care of them during the famine. They were going to kill him, and they sold them off when he was young and yet he was able to forgive. Not only did he forgive them but he kept his trust in God that it was all a part of His plan. He puts all the control on God, that they sold him and put him in the high position and that he was blessed to have been able to take care of them.
With that said, I can only trust that decisions were made and actions were taken because God was in control. I don't truly know why what happened did, but I know that God has a plan for those people and also for me. I have to keep trusting that this is all a part of his plan and just continue to pray that the bitterness will wash away and I will truly be able to forgive like Joseph did and like Christ did for me.