Then Joseph said to his brothers, “Come close to me.” When they had done so, he said, “I am your brother Joseph, the one you sold into Egypt! 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. For two years now there has been famine in the land, and for the next five years, there will be no plowing and reaping. But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance. “So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God. He made me father to Pharaoh, lord of his entire household, and ruler of all Egypt.
The story of Joseph is a miracle of forgiveness. We need more forgiveness in our world today. One of the most unforgettable stories on forgiveness is mined from an Amish school shooting. On October 2, 2006, a milk truck driver entered a village schoolhouse in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, tied and shot his victims, ten young girls who range from 6-13, in the head at close range, with 17 or 18 shots fired in all, killing five, before committing suicide. Bullet holes and blood splatter were everywhere.
More shocking was the Amish community’s reaction. A spokesman for the gunman’s family said an Amish neighbor comforted the shooter’s family hours after the shooting and extended forgiveness to them. Amish community members visited and comforted the widow, parents, and parents-in-law. One Amish man reportedly held the man’s sobbing father in his arms for as long as an hour to comfort him. About 30 members of the Amish community attended Roberts’ funeral. Scholars of Amish life explained that “letting go of grudges” is a deeply rooted value in Amish culture. They explained that the Amish willingness to forgo vengeance does not undo the tragedy or pardon the wrong, but rather constitutes a first step toward a future that is more hopeful. A father who lost a daughter in the schoolhouse said, “Forgiveness means giving up the right to revenge.” “The acid of bitterness eats the container that holds it,” one farmer added.
Joseph grew up in a family with lots of boys. He was one of the youngest and most favored by his father Jacob and mother Rachel. Joseph’s favor led to jealousy from his older brothers, in fact, they sold him into slavery. Joseph rose from the ashes to become an adviser in Pharoah’s court. His position of leadership gave him the opportunity to provide for his family during a famine, but would he give up his right to revenge? God had forgiven Joseph of his sins, so he could forgive his brothers of their sin of selling him to slavery.
Don’t miss the miracle of forgiveness in your life today. God did for you what you could not do for yourself. Do you know the miracle of God’s forgiveness in your heart? If not, today would be a great day to empty your container of bitterness, resentment, and unforgiveness for the joy of God’s forgiveness.