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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Today’s Scripture Reading | Genesis 45:1–15

Then Joseph could no longer control himself before all those who stood by him, and he cried out, “Send everyone away from me.” So no one stayed with him when Joseph made himself known to his brothers. And he wept so loudly that the Egyptians heard it, and the household of Pharaoh heard it. Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph. Is my father still alive?” But his brothers could not answer him, so dismayed were they at his presence. Then Joseph said to his brothers, “Come closer to me.” And they came closer. He said, “I am your brother, Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt. And now do not be distressed, or angry with yourselves, because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life. For the famine has been in the land these two years; and there are five more years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvest. God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant on earth, and to keep alive for you many survivors. So it was not you who sent me here, but God; he has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house and ruler over all the land of Egypt. Hurry and go up to my father and say to him, ‘Thus says your son Joseph, God has made me lord of all Egypt; come down to me, do not delay. You shall settle in the land of Goshen, and you shall be near me, you and your children and your children’s children, as well as your flocks, your herds, and all that you have. I will provide for you there—since there are five more years of famine to come—so that you and your household, and all that you have, will not come to poverty.’ And now your eyes and the eyes of my brother Benjamin see that it is my own mouth that speaks to you. You must tell my father how greatly I am honored in Egypt, and all that you have seen. Hurry and bring my father down here.” Then he fell upon his brother Benjamin’s neck and wept, while Benjamin wept upon his neck. And he kissed all his brothers and wept upon them; and after that his brothers talked with him. (NRSV)

This chapter represents the climax of a family drama that unfolded over years and was filled with themes of violence, envy, cowardice, deception, blackmail, and fear. It also contains perseverance, love, loyalty, change, forgiveness, redemption, faith, transformation, and healing.

No one in this story is innocent, and they all needed deliverance from themselves, their dysfunctional family history, trauma, and hardship. Joseph can’t hide his identity any longer and lets his brothers know who he is. They are clearly in shock and can’t process what’s happening to them. There is crying, moaning, and releasing of strong, pent-up, complex emotions. In the midst of this hot mess, Joseph has the revelation that this is all in God’s plan. Through the twisted events and mistakes of their lives, God has orchestrated “an amazing act of deliverance.”

Who of us doesn’t need to be delivered from something in this life that causes us to suffer and holds us back from being truly and fully who God intends us to be. Sometimes it can feel insensitive to quickly go to “God has a plan and will deliver us.” More often than not, when enough time transpires and insight is gained, the gifts gleaned from the hardship remain and there is meaning and purpose evident through the suffering and struggle. God most certainly specializes in acts of deliverance. At the end of my life I want my experience to have been one of God present with me at every step along the way, performing “amazing acts of deliverance” to bring me home.

Dear God, because of my limitations and frailty and because of what life can be like, help me feel your constant presence and deliver me in your way into your love. Amen.

Written by Thomas Schemper, Director, Replogle Center for Counseling and Well-Being

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