If God allowed you to be in Joseph’s place, would you be able to forgive? Our response is dictated by our perspective. In order words, if Joseph focused on what his brothers did to him, especially since they never sought to find him, the circumstances may seem overwhelming. When Joseph reflected on what his brothers did, he cried repeatedly. However, when Joseph focused on what God did for him and what God’s plan was for His people, Joseph was better able to remain focused. “God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant in the earth, and to keep you alive by a great deliverance. Now, therefore, it was not you who sent me here, but God …….” (Genesis 45:7-9; NASU) Believing Romans 8:28-29 is more than a notion, especially in the case of Joseph; “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” It seemed like Joseph’s life was a wreck while it was being blessed.
One day when Stan Mooneyham was walking along a trail in East Africa with some friends, he became aware of a delightful odor that filled the air. He looked up in the trees and around at the bushes to discover where it was coming from. Then his friends told him to look down at the small blue flower growing along the path. Each time they crushed the tiny blossoms under their feet, more of its sweet perfume was released into the air. Then his friends said, “We call it the forgiveness flower.”
This forgiveness flower does not wait until we ask forgiveness for crushing it. It does not release its fragrance in measured doses or hold us to a reciprocal arrangement. It does not ask for an apology; it merely lives up to its name and forgives—freely, fully, richly. What a touching example of outrageous forgiveness! (From A Treasury of Bible Illustrations Copyright © 1995, 1998 by AMG International, Inc. All rights reserved. Used by Permission.) When the purposes of God overshadow anything, anyone can allow the character of Christ to be a sweet-smelling aroma to those around us.
The challenge that forgiveness creates is dealing with how we overcome our feelings while remaining committed to the will of God. It challenges us to the deepest levels of our lives because of the mental, emotional, and sometimes physical pain various circumstances can create (Galatians 5:16-25). This was modeled for us by Christ (1 Peter 2:21-25). His commitment to His Father’s will caused Him to provide forgiveness. In order to provide forgiveness, He had to deny Himself even on the cross as the thief and the people below mocked Him. It’s not that forgiveness did not cause emotional pain – after all, once He got up from the grave, He asked Peter “do you love me …?” (John 21:15-17). Jesus’ life looked like a major wreck, but it was only this way because He denied Himself and followed God for His purposes. Maybe this is why Paul, who had similar struggles said; “….that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death.” (Philippians 3:10).
Joseph’s commitments to God’s will, no matter what he experienced, blessed him to experience God’s providential work. It is his commitment that created the need to forgive. Joseph’s self-denial led to many trials, but it could not compare to the victory. It is not what we are going through that matters most. It is the Lord we must trust while experiencing various trials (Hebrews 10:32-39; 12:1-3).