Shake It Off!
Few of us have experienced what Joseph experienced at the hands of his brothers. Jealous because he was their father’s favorite son, they verbally and physically abused him in some form every day. The Scriptures reveal their hateful actions against him as they beat him, conspired to murder him, threw him into a pit, sold him to strangers as a slave, and then lied to his father that a wild animal had killed him.
He ended up in Egypt, at first a slave, then a prisoner, falsely accused of attempted rape. An innocent man treated cruelly by his own brothers, Joseph had every “right” to be bitter. He had every “right” to dream of the day when he could get even.
That day finally came, twenty-two years later. That was when the brothers of Joseph appeared before him in Egypt, where they had come to buy food because of a severe famine in Israel. By this time, Joseph had risen to become the Prime Minister of Egypt, second in power only to Pharaoh. From the pit to the prison, Joseph’s journey had now taken him to the palace, a remarkable example of how God is able to make all things work together for the good of those who love him.
Joseph recognized them. Here was his opportunity. Not only did he have the “right” to get even, he had the power to do so. What would he do? How would he do it?
Listen to Joseph speaking.
“Please come near me. 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…Now therefore do not be afraid. I will provide for you and your little ones. (Genesis 45:4-5; 50:19,21).
Wow, he forgave them completely and blessed them bountifully! What an example for all of us who have ever been wronged, especially by members of our own families!
Now, here is an old story we can all learn from:
The mule of an old farmer fell into an empty well. The well was too narrow and too deep to get the animal out. His only option was to fill the well with dirt to make sure another animal or even worse a child did not fall in. So the old farmer grabbed a shovel and began to throw in the dirt, one shovel at a time. When that first pile of dirt hit his back, the mule instinctively shook it off and stepped on top of it. Then another pile landed on him and he shook it off and stepped on top of it again. This went on all afternoon: shake the dirt off, and step on top of it; shake the dirt off and step on top of it. And every time it shook the dirt off and stepped on top of it, the mule rose a little higher. Finally, after hours of shaking it off and getting on top of it, the old farmer’s mule had risen high enough to step out of his hole and go on living.
That mule, like Joseph, discovered a life-transforming lesson: the dirt that is intended to bury you can elevate you!
So let me ask you a question. What will you do with the dirt that you are carrying on your back because of what people have done to you? My suggestion is that you refuse to let it bury you. Decide it’s time to shake the dirt off and get on top of it. That is what the mule did; that’s what Joseph did. And that is what you should do!
Do you know someone who has really hurt you and you have not yet forgiven? It’s time to set that person free, not because he or she deserves it, but because that is the only way for you to get out of “the hole” in order to truly live.