As we continue our journey through Lent, Christians throughout Columbia will be sharing their own beautifully written ‘letters from the heart.’ Each will be accompanied by corresponding relevant scripture verse(s), and linked to sources for further study. If you would like to join us on Columbia’s Lenten journey, please send us your ‘letter from the heart’ by email. Especially meaningful submissions will be printed. Let us continue our Lenten journey of repentance, meditation, and anticipation day-by-day, to its glorious culmination on Easter morning.
Today’s scripture reading is from Genesis 50:15-26.
Like most people, I emerged from childhood with some pretty dysfunctional ways of solving problems and relating to people. Mine were no worse than the average person’s, but after a number of false starts with education, marriage and a career, it all hurt enough that I went running for help. Perhaps I was merely gifted with a low pain threshold! But in an odd, unintended way, I had been sold into a kind of slavery of the mind and emotions that took some time and effort to work through. For many years, I harbored resentment toward those who had unwittingly caused me pain. I often thought about Joseph’s speech in today’s passage, thinking that other people had meant evil toward me but that God had meant it for good. In time, I recognized that those who hurt me were hurt themselves and never intended or recognized the pain they had caused. I finally realized that nursing my wounds only hurt me.
In the Genesis story, Joseph is the favored, youngest son of his father, a status acutely resented by his older brothers, and a situation not helped by Joseph’s bragging. The brothers talk of killing Joseph and reporting it as an accident, but later sell him to some travelers on their way to Egypt. In Egypt Joseph prospered as an interpreter of dreams and as an administrator. He seems to be credited with protecting the grain reserves that feed Egypt and many people from surrounding lands during a famine. Eventually, Joseph’s brothers were forced to Egypt by famine as well. When they saw that Joseph recognized them, they were afraid. But Joseph forgave his brothers.
My case was never as extreme as Joseph’s. But like Joseph, I tried to lay down the burden of resentment. I no longer feel that people have meant to do evil to me or that God meant it for good. Now I feel that although people may have treated me carelessly, they were not evil. And while I believe that God has helped me work though some of my tough stuff, Good did not set bad things in motion to later work them for good. Joseph is credited with saving his people. With God’s help, I continue to try to remove the burdens, resentments and angry feelings that made it hard for me to hear God’s voice.
Columbia, South Carolina
If you enjoyed this Lenten meditation, you can find more at Sharon's Columbia Biblical Studies Examiner homepage.