My family growing up was one big mess. Fighting. Arguing. Yelling. Crying. And eventually, a lot of forgiving. If ever there is a place to learn about forgiveness…to practice forgiveness…to struggle with forgiveness…it is in the family. And interestingly, it is in the context of family where the word forgiveness first shows up in the Bible.
Let’s dig into Scripture today. Come on. You can do it.
In the book of Genesis, we meet a young man named Joseph—the eleventh of twelve brothers, and favorite son of Jacob. He is most famously known for his elaborate coat of many colors. Young Joseph had several prophetic dreams involving his brothers and father one day bowing down to him. Rather than keep that bit of information to himself, he shared it with his already jealous siblings. When he was seventeen, his brothers had enough of this rather bratty brother.
So one day, when Joseph went out to the fields to check on them, they schemed to throw him in a well, shred his fancy coat, and tell Jacob his favorite son had been killed by a wild animal. Just after they had tossed him in the pit, a Midianite caravan came passing by. Then they hatched another plan; rather than leave Joseph to die, they sold him into slavery and pocketed a bit of money in the process.
Joseph served as a slave in the home of a high-ranking official named Potiphar. While there, he was falsely accused of sexually assaulting Potiphar’s wife and thrown into prison. (And you thought you were having a bad day.)
During his prison stay, he interpreted dreams for some of his fellow inmates. One day the Pharaoh of Egypt had a disturbing dream that no one could interpret. The Pharaoh’s cupbearer, who had been in prison with Joseph, told the King about Joseph’s gift of interpretation.
Joseph interpreted the Pharaoh’s dream, and predicted seven years of plenty followed by seven years of famine. The Pharaoh was so enamored with Joseph’s God-given wisdom that he appointed him governor of Egypt, second only to the Pharaoh himself.
During the famine, who should show up in Egypt looking for food but Joseph’s conniving brothers? They were terrified when the governor revealed that he was their long lost brother. “I am your brother Joseph, the one you sold into Egypt!” There were tears all around. Don’t you know they were terrified? What would Joseph do? What would you do?
This was Joseph’s response to the injustice inflicted by his brothers: “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…You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” (Gen. 45:5; 50:20).
Joseph did not say, “Oh, that’s OK. Don’t worry about it.” No, he called the betrayal what it was—evil against him that resulted in thirteen years of slavery. At the same time, he chose to forgive the wrong done to him, and allow God’s grace to flow through him. He opened the door for reconciliation and entrusted the matter of justice to God.
Thus ends Genesis, the first book of the Bible. We close out the epic narrative with a portrait of forgiveness that continues throughout the entire Bible, and it all begins with a very mixed-up family. I’m sort of glad. That gives me great comfort. I hope it does for you.
Forgiveness prevents us from getting stuck in the bad parts of our stories and opens a door for a new ending.
Heavenly Father, family is so messy. We hurt each other and love each other, sometimes at the same time. Help me to forgive quickly. Help me to allow every situation to make me better and not become bitter. Help me to trust in Your sovereignty in every situation. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Is there someone in your family that you need to forgive today?
Go back and read today’s truth one more time. What was Joseph’s perspective of his brother’s betrayal? What would happen if you had that perspective in the chapters of your story where you’ve been hurt?
Let’s get unstuck from mediocre faith and take hold of all that God has done for us and put in us! No more spiritual couch potato for me. I’m ready for the mountain moving, giant slaying, bold believing faith that God intended all along! In Take Hold of the Faith You Long For: Let Go, Move Forward, and Live Bold you’ll see how to ignite your faith as never before. This book comes with a Bible Study Guide and would be perfect for your fall Bible Study.
© 2022 by Sharon Jaynes. All rights reserved.
7 years ago I filed for divorce after 30 years of marriage. Just found out he remarried. I have 2 boys who came along side him during the divorce. Both boys are married and recently had babies within 4 days of each other. Our relationships are very strained and my heart aches daily. They will drive by my house and never visit then post pictures of the babies on social media. My heart breaks and I keep falling deeper into despair. I’m 71 boys are 26 and 24. I feel like the biggest failure and cant move forward. Just keep sinking.
I’m so sorry. Have you reached out to them?
I’m sorry Regina. I understand this oh so well. In my case, Its because of parental alienation. They were always the favored playmate parent while we were always the ones who had to just get stuff done, disciplinarian, household managers etc. We had to do the unpleasant parenting parts. But thats what happens when you are working full time, wife, mother, household engineer manager, shopper, appointment maker and taker, school resource person. We do ALL for others.
While our Narcissistic spouses take all.
Find yourself a support group. Adult Children of Alcoholics and Dysfunctional families are very helpful. Especially in regards to the Dysfunctional part. They are so helpful and God is there. You will not be alone. You will be heard, validated and supported.
Here is a very warm, internet hug for you. God loves us. We need to learn how to love ourselves. He didn’t give us a spirit of fear nor an unsound mind. I’m letting go and letting God deal with the spouse and daughters. Spouse? God knows. I’m not sure we are making another year of marriage.
Elaine, thank you for sharing. This resonates with me (dysfunctional & narcissistic spouse, non-existent partner/parent). I have been married 30 yrs…been hanging on trying not to hurt my 3 (now adult) children more…I put all in therapy w/Christian counselors… praying for us all.🙏🙌
I know the heartache. I had a falling out over the years with my narcissist brother. After my dad died Now his adult children do not call or see me . They remain loyal to him. I s only seen one nephew in 3 years. The rest have not called or visited in over 6 months. I can only see their lives on social media. No personal contact. And this is after I forgave my brother then he treated me worse than before. And I walked away from him after. I could not tolerate any more abuse. His wife and adult children stay loyal to him and have stopped contacting me. It’s sad but I’ve learned to trust Jesus that things will work out for good
I really relate to what your saying.
My late husband passed and then I found out how he had like a second life. He worked hard to emotionally abuse and dehumanize me. He turned our growing daughters against me .
When I shared all this with his brother, he was in denial. Since then him and his wife and married kids won’t talk to me . So when I lost my husband ,I lost my daughters,grandkids, brother in-law ,nieces and nephews . Nobody believes me and it’s been grievous to lose all these relationships but I know vindication and vengeance is the Lords. I trust in Himto bring healing and restoration as I learn to let go and let Him help me to be forgiving, and even loving , to those who’ve hurt me.
Hi Regina, I can’t imagine what you are going through. But I want to send you a big virtual hug and tell you that you are not a failure. Father God, according so psalm 34, I thank you that you are closest to those with a broken heart and are crushed in spirit; that Regina will taste and see that you are good. That even though she has had many afflictions, you will deliver her from every one of them. Your angels are encamped her, guarding her with swords. She is beautiful and radiant. In no other name than your son Jesus, Amen.
What a kind response. ♥️
Your story is similar to my mine.
My late husband was a pastor, we were married for 40 yrs. when he passed away because of a blood clot to the heart after emergency surgery.
Unbeknownst to me, for yrs. he was turning my 2 daughters against me ,telling them lies and disrespecting me.
My oldest is 41, with 3 kids. Last time I talked to them was 6 yrs. ago. After family therapy sessions, she left me with the harsh words ,you’re not welcome in my house. I last saw the grandkids when they were 2,7 and 9. Now they’re teenagers I don’t recognize.
My second daughter is 38, and I only found out she had a foster baby at the funeral. Since then she’s adopted her and now has a second little girl,I’ve never seen or know her name. I saw her 3 yrs. ago , at my remarriage. Since then she has had no contact with me even though I’ve tried to reach out several times over the first 2 yrs. of our estrangement. One of the last times, I saw her, she was rude and obnoxious and disrespectful. She basically threw me out of her house.
So I know how devastatingly painful all this is. At least, they’re not thumbing their nose at me. But that being said, I’ve had to really walk through this time leaning on God to get me through. My new husband and his grown kids have helped me with their love and understanding.
It will get easier as time goes on. You have to put it in Gods hands and move forward. I’m still having to learn to forgive my late husband for damaging my relationships with them. And trust that the Holy Spirit will soften their hearts. He’s betrayed me for years and I had no idea. He took advantage of me and the love I had for him.
There are triggers and you’ll find those days harder. But talk to a trustworthy friend, cry, but carry on.
So true. I 100% agree with you Sharon as it is also mentioned in the Scripture in the Book of Isaiah Chapter 43 verse 19 to forget the former things and see the new good things GOD has prepared for us.
Forgiveness is the door to our new fresh visions. We will never be able to see what lies ahead if we keep on looking back or holding on to all those past hurts.
Forgive as GOD, Our Heavenly Father has forgiven you.
You are stepping on toes this morning! However, we need bold leaders like you to just say it like it is! Forgiveness, no matter how difficult, is a necessity for true followers of Jesus. Thank you for reminding us to forgive family members who have hurt us, to keep loving them with the love of Jesus (even from afar), and to lean and depend on God for vindication and validation.
What happens when you forgive them then they treat you worse ? Something you have to let go ., Let God
You can only do what you can do. You just have to give it to God and let go of it.
I’m needing this as a constant reminder in my own life. I am currently struggling with my feelings over my sister’s extremely hurtful behavior towards me. It is very hard to let go and forgive but I also know I don’t feel good when I’m angry. I do not hold onto it but feel like our relationship will never be the same but also realizing I didn’t really see or chose not to see behaviors in the past. I feel like I found my voice and she does not like that and is being more hurtful because of it. I have a super Christian counselor, very grateful for that to help me thru this difficult process of not only grieving my father but almost like another grieving for a sister that I no longer have a relationship with.
Susie, your comments sound like we are walking the same road. Grieving the loss of my parents but also the loss of a friendship I no longer have with a sister. I, too, have a super Christian counselor. God’s word is clear on forgiveness. It helps us heal to forgive. We don’t forget though and don’t have to tolerate abusive relationships. I didn’t see the abusive behavior before and have lived my 60 plus years people pleasing. God has been taking me through a season of healing.
The feeling of losing a parent and losing a sibling because the sibling mistreats you is very painful. Find other support. From people who are able and willing to love you the way you should be loved
We are called to forgive just as we have been forgiven. I know from experience it isn’t easy. My former husband of 16 years left and we had three young sons. And it wasn’t enough that he left but then he remarried within 30 days of the divorce and continued to try and hurt me (and the boys) with his decisions. I choose to forgive him and I lived for 10 years having to choose to forgive him daily and sometimes even more then that. But I can say it was best for me (and my then “babies”). After 10 years my former husband apologized to me and the boys with tears in his eyes. I heard it once said that when we forgive it is letting the prisoner out and then realizing you were the prisoner. I always say I want to be better not bitter and Praise God He allowed me to do just that through the worse time of my life.
Forgiveness doesn’t mean we continue to take abuse from someone, forgiveness means letting go of the pain associated with that person. We don’t forgive them for their sake, we forgive for our sake. It isn’t letting them off the hook for bad behavior, it is letting go of the hurt of that behavior in our own hearts.
Dr. Dick Tibbitts wrote a book: “Forgive to Live”…I highly recommend it. Refusing to forgive doesn’t hurt them, it hurts us. We forgive so we don’t poison ourselves because unforgiveness is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. We forgive for ourselves.
And yes, I do know what narcissism in the family is like. Yes, I do know what spousal abuse is, first hand. Yes, I do have experience and am still experiencing parental alienation and my children are in their late 30’s up to late 40’s. I get it! But, I also know that it only hurts me to remain unforgiving. We can only love others to the extent that we understand and know God loves us!
A loving and lovable Christian will go far in reaching those who are wounded in our lives. I pray to be more loving to those who have hurt me…not to enable them to walk all over me, but to show them Christ. He said if he was high and lifted up, he would draw all men unto himself…I also pray that those I have hurt in life will forgive me, that we can begin again, fresh as from a shower…but even if they don’t, that I will forgive myself as God has forgiven. Blessings!
My family and I are in a mess. My husband and I only have 1 adult son. He married a girl that doesn’t have the same biblical views as our family. She didn’t grow up going to church. She’s a very young christian.They’ve only been married 1-1/2 year. Apparently our biblical views caused problems so they went to marriage counselor because of this topic. They must have not discussed this issue with the minister before marrying. She has gotten her feelings hurt over a simple misunderstanding. She’s held the grudge for a long time. Now they decided we have over stepped our boundaries as loving parents and now my son is questioning our love toward him because we didn’t say “I love you”all the time vocally like her parents did to her. We asked for forgiveness but it seems she won’t forgive unless we verbally commit to the things we said were wrong and hurt her. Please pray for healing in our family.