“Now Israel loved Joseph more than any other of his sons, because he was the son of his old age. And he made him a robe of many colors. But when his brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers, they hated him and could not speak peacefully to him.”
Although families can be a blessing from God, sometimes, they struggle. Joseph and his brothers are a great example of family conflict. The brothers were so jealous of all the attention Joseph got from their father that they decided to get rid of him. First, they planned to kill Joseph, but then a new opportunity arose…
Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery and sent him away to another country.
Because of his brothers, Joseph was ripped away from his home, his family, and even his freedom. Because of his brothers, he never got to see his mother again. Then the brothers lied to their father, saying that Joseph had been killed.
If there was ever a family conflict, this is it!
Flashforward many years and God has worked to take Joseph from a lowly slave to Pharaoh’s right-hand man. Famine plagues the land, and wouldn’t you know it, here comes Joseph’s brothers, traveling to Egypt in search of food.
The sight of his brothers filled Joseph with many emotions. Genesis 42-45 tell a full and dramatic story of how Joseph and his brothers are reunited. There are times when Joseph spoke roughly, tested his brothers, sent them away to return with their youngest brother, wept, and provided them with lifesaving grain to feed their families. It is a powerful story with a lot of twists and turns. In the end, not only do Joseph’s brothers repent of their sin, but the family is restored together.
Throughout this entire experience, Joseph had plenty of opportunities to “get back” at his brothers for the pain they had caused him. Instead, he revealed himself to them and spoke reassuring words of forgiveness: “And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you. (Gen 45:5).
After a horrible betrayal, Joseph forgave his brothers. Not only did he give them more food, but he asked them to bring his entire family back to Egypt. Joseph was reunited with his father and was able to provide for his family in the midst of their hardship. Joseph explained to his brothers: “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives (Gen 50:20).”
So what can we learn from Joseph?
First, just as God forgives us, we need to forgive each other, even when it seems undeserved.
Second, that God works through all things, even family conflict. While we might look at our family and see only brokenness and hurt, God sees opportunities for forgiveness and grace.
- Consider Joseph’s situation.If you were in his shoes, how would you have felt?
Recall a time of conflict in your family. Maybe a fight with a sibling or a disagreement with a parent.
- What was that like? Whose “fault” was it?
- How did you feel? How did they feel?
- Did you forgive them?
Following Joseph’s example, how will you practice forgiveness as a family moving forward?
Lord God, we thank you for our family, even though we don’t always get along. We pray that you would forgive us for fighting with each other, and help us to forgive one another, just as you forgive us. Thank you, Lord. We love you, Lord. In Jesus’ Name, Amen