I know what it’s like to be falsely accused and wrongfully treated. It’s not fun. And while I’ve never spent any time in prison over it, I did struggle with being held captive by the hurt and resentment that followed. And the closer the accuser was to me, the bigger the struggle for my emotional security. I can think of a time several years ago, that I was falsely accused by people I admired and respected within a body of believers. That was one of the deepest hurts I have ever faced. But the fruit of that hurtful time, was a closeness to God I had not felt in a long time. I can remember closing myself in a room, falling on my face before God and crying out to him with my pain. The sweetness of the presence of Jesus during that time, was unbelievable! He reassured me that I had done no wrong and that I needed to keep on doing what I was doing despite the fuss. It wasn’t easy, but he gave me the strength to do it. He also blessed me with others who understood what was going on and encouraged me.
Looking back in Genesis, Joseph may not have always been the epitome of a godly man, but he emerged from his time in the pit, with humility, a love and trust of God, and a forgiving spirit that few human beings ever achieve. Being wrongfully accused and thrown in prison didn’t take that away, but seemed to strengthen it! The story of Joseph proved to be the favorite of the Bible Quizzers this year. I think they could relate to how he must have felt going through all that he did and how he could have responded in many of these situations, but chose not to. This led him to experience true freedom even as he sat in prison, not knowing when or if he’d ever leave. We can see Joseph’s tender heart when he sees his brothers again years later. He had to leave their presence to go weep on more than one occasion. (Gen. 42:23&24a; Gen. 43:30; Gen. 45:1&2). His brothers on the other hand, never did experience that tenderness of heart or that freedom that comes from forgiveness and peace with God. They never did admit to their father what they had done in selling Joseph. They never did confess their anger and hatred of him. They continued to live the way they always had. And later, when Joseph revealed himself to them and told them he forgave them, they did not quite believe him (Gen. 50:15-17). They could not let go of their guilt. They had not learned any of their lessons.
It is so easy to be like the brothers of Joseph – seeing those around us who seem favored and feeling jealous. Trying to take matters in our own hands and not trusting God. Not accepting the forgiveness given by someone we have wronged (maybe because we still feel they deserved it!). Not being honest to those we love. Not trusting those who want to love us and help us. God help us get to a place where like Joseph, we can see our struggles and pain as an opportunity to learn more of God’s greatness and our smallness. Where we learn the lessons God has for us and turn to him in our pain. Trusting him in spite of our circumstances – knowing He won’t let us down even though people do.