Day 5 - Genesis 50:15-21

Overcoming Fear

After Jacob died, Joseph traveled with his brothers back to Canaan to bury their father. Joseph had not been there since he left in chains. Walking those same roads must have evoked a lot of memories for the entire family. His brothers began to write a silly first draft of fear assuming that Joseph was only forgiving them for selling him as a slave for their father’s sake. Instead of trusting that God really was sovereignly providing for their family, they decided to manipulate with lies.

15 When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “What if Joseph holds a grudge against us and pays us back for all the wrongs we did to him?” 16 So they sent word to Joseph, saying, “Your father left these instructions before he died: 17 ‘This is what you are to say to Joseph: I ask you to forgive your brothers the sins and the wrongs they committed in treating you so badly.’ Now please forgive the sins of the servants of the God of your father.” When their message came to him, Joseph wept.”

I wonder if Joseph wept because his brothers clung to fear instead of faith. They still didn’t get it. They couldn’t see God’s amazing grace toward them in spite of all their past mistakes. They conjured up an imaginary issue and then sought a solution to their fake problem with lies.

How are you battling your own thought life lately? Do you have any fears that may or may not be based on facts?  What human solutions have you considered?

We all write stories in our heads based on the facts of our situations. The problem comes when we assume our stories are facts. We can’t really know others’ intentions and motives. We judge ourselves based on our motives but we judge others based on their actions. The brothers could have communicated with Joseph and asked questions. Instead they made assumptions and allowed fear to lead them down a path of deception. They had done this before when their jealous fears had led them to sell Joseph. Fear has a tendency to be a precursor to slavery. Joseph shows us another way. Faith can triumph over fear when we keep our eyes on the Lord.

50:18 His brothers then came and threw themselves down before him. “We are your slaves,” they said.19 But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? 20 You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. 21 So then, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children.” And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them.

Once again, the brothers see slavery as the antidote to their fears. They sold Joseph when they felt threatened by him and now, they want to sell themselves. Joseph tried to help them see that God offers us a life free from fear. He didn’t give into fear but framed his circumstances in faith. Even what others meant for harm in his life, he saw the Lord using for good. He kept a humble posture seeing God as the blessed controller of all things knowing that any power he held over his brothers came from the Lord.

How does seeing God as the blessed controller who is working things out for your ultimate good encourage you today?

Detours can be scary, but we don’t have to operate from fear. Instead we can rest in knowing that even what others mean for harm in our lives, God can use for our good if we will put our trust in Him.

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