On the third day, Joseph said to them, “Do this and you will live, for I fear God: If you are honest men, let one of your brothers stay here in prison, while the rest of you go and take grain back for your starving households. ... They said to one another, “Surely we are being punished because of our brother. We saw how distressed he was when he pleaded with us for his life, but we would not listen; that’s why this distress has come on us.” … They did not realize that Joseph could understand them, since he was using an interpreter.
- from Genesis 42:18-23
Today we get a glimpse into the troubled minds of Joseph’s brothers. For almost 20 years they’ve lived with the painful memory of what they did to their younger brother: the way they treated him and how they’d hurt him. They’re stuck in their guilt and Joseph is stuck in his pain.
We can’t be entirely sure what it was that led them to connect their circumstances in that moment to their treatment of Joseph. Maybe it was the thought of losing another brother. Maybe it was the anxiety of being thrown into prison. Maybe it was just their guilty consciences.
Whatever the cause, the outcome was that Joseph got to hear his brothers processing their remorse. This was a rare opportunity.
Imagine wandering through some dusty antique shop and discovering a journal that belonged to someone who wounded you. Against your charitable impulses, you flip the journal open and start to read. To your surprise, you discover that they remember what they did and that they feel remorse.
An experience like that could change the way you see the person who hurt you. You might feel compassion or forgiveness toward that person, or you might find your heart becoming even harder toward them. Either way, your heart would have an opportunity to come unstuck. And, in that environment, the Lord can continue his healing work in you.
But secret, lost journals and opportunities to overhear private conversations across a translation barrier are rare. The chances that we could come by either are unlikely. But God can still work in a thousand ways to transform the way we see the people who’ve hurt us. God can help you heart come unstuck.
Take a few moments today to ask the Lord to change the way you view the people who’ve hurt you. Allow him to give you the gift of forgiveness or the strength of firm boundaries (or both!). Invite him to bring healing into your heart.