Joseph said to his brothers, “I’m Joseph! Is my father really still alive?” His brothers couldn’t respond because they were terrified before him. (Genesis 45:3 CEB)

This past Sunday at Trinity, as part of our “Hope in Uncertain Times” series, I preached about moving beyond guilt and self-doubt. When we are holding guilt like Joseph’s brothers were, we live in constant fear of getting caught. Getting caught means someone else confronting you with the knowledge of the most awful thing you have done, and every fear you have conjured up over years and years of guilt are finally all coming true in the exact same moment. Such shame.

When we have lived with deep, buried guilt, we forget the other possibility, that forgiveness could also be around the corner; forgiveness and freedom.

I recently said something to someone in a moment of weakness that I deeply, deeply regret. I sat with it for awhile, hoping the shame would go away, but it didn’t. Eventually, I bared my soul to this person with a no excuses apology (and oh, did I have a list of excuses to offer if asked!). The apology was received, but I am not sure it was fully accepted.

Apologizing did not make what I said any less hurtful or any more right. I can not dismiss my actions by simply saying an apology. But I know better. I knew better when I said it. And I am no longer afraid of it.

The best thing that could have happened to Joseph’s brothers was getting busted. Even if Joseph hadn’t forgiven them, they could stop living in fear.

But this is a really happy ending, so let’s not take that away. Joseph has found a place of complete trust in God, as has Jacob. The brothers no longer blame one another for events from long ago. A new start for this beleaguered family has begun.

Day 13: Genesis 45:1-46:7

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