Overcoming the Hurdles of Forgiveness

“We should never minimize our own trauma or that of others, and what we’ve experienced may take many years and conversations and much prayer to overcome, but we are not created to live as slaves to our past hurts.”

In the dramatic story of Joseph and his brothers, Joseph finally reveals himself to them and then says:

“‘And now do not be distressed or angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life…’ And he kissed all his brothers and wept upon them. After that his brothers talked with him.”

Genesis 45:5,15

How many of us would find the hurdle of forgiveness easier to overcome if we took Joseph’s perspective as our own? This may not have been his outlook immediately after being sold into slavery by his brothers, and it may have taken some time for him to forgive them, but his trust in the ultimate goodness of God’s plan is something we should seek to emulate.

Too often people spend many painful years in bitterness and unforgiveness. Some even believe they need to “forgive God” for what he allowed to happen to them. But we find no such perspective affirmed in the pages of scripture. We find faithful servants (who are no doubt touched by the trauma of their experiences) proclaiming by faith that God is good and that he is sovereign over all things.

We should never minimize our own trauma or that of others, and what we’ve experienced may take many years and conversations and much prayer to overcome, but we are not created to live as slaves to our past hurts. Joseph was able to live a fulfilling and productive life because he was not bound to the hurts of his past. We can do the same.

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