Making Peace With Your Painful Past

I'm still following the trajectory of Joseph's life as I find myself going through "The Biggest Storm Of My Life", and the Holy Spirit is just revealing things to me, in such a timely way. In fact, it's very much as if RIGHT BEFORE something is getting ready to happen, God shows it to me in the scriptures. I find myself writing what the Holy Spirit is putting on my heart, and then rereading it as I feel it manifesting in my life. I know that may sound so SUPER religious, but just stay with me. One day, it'll make sense to you.

BACKGROUND: The Story of Joseph
Joseph was wrongfully put in prison, had a strong work ethic in prison, utilized his gifts while in prison, which led to him being called on to use his gifts to help Pharaoh. This led to him becoming 2nd in command to Pharaoh (governor) for the whole country of Egypt, which was a country that was highly regarded in the world at that time.

Joseph, by genealogy was Hebrew. He was a descendant of Abraham whose son was Isaac, who was Joseph's grandfather, by way of his father, Jacob. However, despite his Hebrew birthright, he had been sold into slavery as a teenager by his jealous brothers and purchased by an Egyptian master, Potiphar. So, because he was now entrenched and accepted in Egyptian culture, I'm sure he could pass as an Egyptian instead of Hebrew. He was very much hidden from being a Hebrew because he was so engulfed by the Egyptian life he was thrust into.

Nonetheless, in the midst of Joseph's elevation and newfound identification, God didn't allow Joseph to completely stay "hidden" in his Egyptian-ness. Eventually, Joseph was going to HAVE to actually confront and make peace with his past. God will cover you and sustain you and provide a place of refuge, but it's never meant to be a hiding place forever. God is not in the business of  solely providing "witness protection" programs. He's too strong and too mighty to let you cower in the face of anything. This made me stop right in my tracks.

Don't Make A Temporary Place Permanent

You see, right now, in the midst of my "imprisonment", I'm just... enjoying life and enjoying where God has me. I really am. God has been so good to me. I'm literally, in "hiding", amongst people who are Egyptian, when I'm, in fact, Hebrew and not part of their culture. But if I'm not careful, I can grow so content in prison that I prematurely give up on what was meant to actually thrust me forward to a greater location for Christ. I don't belong in this prison, and this is not my home.

You see, when you know who you are and the calling on your life, yet you find yourself in a place that's unfamiliar, you have to realize it's a temporary residence. You're not meant to get comfortable, stay in hiding, and never leave. Ultimately, whatever you're going through and where God takes you is for a greater purpose and progression, and your temporary residence is meant to be a place of edification and building for the next level. You can't allow yourself to get too comfortable in a place that was only ordained for a temporary season, to be a setup for your comeback. Be content in where God has you (without being comfortable) while going forward to fulfill His calling on your life.

Joseph's calling on his life was far greater than just finding refuge away from persecution. Ultimately, Joseph was chosen by God to be the person to not only save Egypt and the world, but to preserve what would eventually become the children of Israel; God's chosen people. If it wasn't for Joseph interpreting Pharaoh's dream, Egypt never would have been prepared for the famine that would come. Because of Joseph's utilization of his gifts (and selflessness in using them) and  forward thinking in preparing for the famine, Egypt became a source of refuge for Joseph's family; the children of Israel. Without Joseph, the implications are clear that the children of Israel would not have survived. Your Bible would've stopped at Genesis and we wouldn't have half of the Word of God- imagine that!?

You may not see it or understand it now, but there is something God is trying to teach you as you are going through whatever you're going through. There's more to your situation than JUST YOU. God is very intentional. If you know that God has directly and intentionally wrongfully placed you in "prison", you HAVE to understand that the purpose for it far exceeds just YOU and your needs. Your season that you're in now, ultimately, could be for the purpose of saving a generation or a group of people who are just like you. Don't allow yourself to get so comfortable in your "new life" that you forget your actual purpose. Trust the test.

Making Peace With Your Painful Past (See Genesis 42-46)

So, to make a long story short, the world is in the midst of a famine, and Joseph's brothers/past persecutors find themselves in Egypt seeking food. Joseph agrees to help them, but only if all 11 of his brothers come to Egypt, because his brother, Benjamin, had not traveled with them. Once the brothers all come to Egypt, Joseph helps them, gives them a feast, and loads them up with food and money, only to have pretty much set them up. In Benjamin's bag, was a "stolen item" that was placed in his bag purposely. Joseph pretty much set them all up to have to come back to Egypt and pretty much beg for mercy at Joseph's feet, so that they end up mentioning the wrong they had done to Joseph, whom they presumed to be dead. Read the story yourself lol.

The Bible says, in Genesis 45:1, "Then Joseph could not refrain himself before all them that
stood by him; and he cried.... while Joseph made himself known unto his brethren." Joseph tried to walk in his new found position as governor, rejecting his humble beginnings as a Hebrew. That's something so many of us do.... We've been hurt by certain people, so when we get a sense of power, we try to hide in these new false identities, and we use it to get back at those who hurt us. That's a terrible way to lead BTW.  He tried to spitefully pull rank to pay his brothers back for the wrong they did to him, but that wasn't like him. His convictions wouldn't allow himself to do that. He caved in, cried, and confessed. A few verses later, he beckons his brothers to come near. Don't allow what feels right in the flesh (bitterness, harbored hatred, etc.) to stop you from doing what you know is right in the Spirit.  In Matthew 5:44, Jesus says, "But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;". If Christ resides within you, you should feel a conviction to do what Jesus says; don't fight it.  I can completely sympathize with not wanting to love your enemies. Being hurt HURTS. Forgiveness and healing after being so viciously and carelessly hurt is HARD, but Jesus commands us, so we have to trust that he knows best, because he does. Forgiveness and healing isn't for your enemies; it's for you. Don't allow anyone to have that much control over you that bitterness takes root and limits your spiritual progress and relationship with God.

Joseph had every reason to lash out his brothers; from a human viewpoint, they ruined his life. Stripped him from his childhood, betrayed him, plotted to kill him, yet sold him into a life of slavery, when the favor he had on his life would've never required enslavement. His life as a slave ultimately led to his imprisonment. So did he have a reason to be mad? YES. BUT, if it wasn't for all of these events, he would have never been in the position to provide a need for Pharaoh and be elevated to 2nd in command of the whole country, save the country and world from destruction, and preserve the people of God.

We give our enemies and persecutors too much credit. Realize that whatever has happened to you was orchestrated or allowed by God. Your time of struggle or false persecution is temporary. God works all things together for our good, so rest in that. Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning! Eventually, you'll look back and see that if it wasn't for the bad times, you would've never been in the position to be elevated. Trust the process; God IS aware and fully in control, even if it doesn't seem like it.

Joseph's brothers couldn't understand why Joseph would forgive them. They had lived with grief and guiltiness for so many years that even after Joseph showed compassion to them, they were dead set on it being temporary; only until their father died. But I love what Joseph says in Genesis 50:20, "But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive." We have to be sincere in making peace with our past because it literally changes the trajectory of your life. You can have a pity party and pretend to forgive, but just know it will keep you in bondage. Joseph's brothers felt guilty... for a lifetime, but that didn't mean Joseph had to be in bondage right along with them. He chose to truly forgive and have compassion. He understood that his pain had a greater purpose; the gains far outweighed the temporary lows.

So be encouraged, Friend :) God has a purpose for your pain. Don't get caught up in it. Allow God to lead you, but don't get too comfortable. The Christian walk is one of active, perpetual movement. The moment you get comfortable, you stop being molded to the image of God. There's no time for bitterness and unforgiveness. Make peace with the pain of your past. You never know how God is going to use you, for good, for those who hurt you, "to save much people alive". The deliverance of a person or  people may rest in your hands. Is complacency or a grudge worth it?

Making Peace With My Past,

Dear God, It's so easy to become mistake contentment for complacency. Help us to be so content and restful in the control You have over our lives, without becoming so complacent that we'd rather stay stagnant than allow you to move us to the heights that we need to move to for You. Help us to disallow our past to stunt our growth. Remove us from the bondage of people, painful pasts, wrongful persecution, guilt, shame, or anything else that will hinder us from resting and walking in Your will for our lives. There are people who need to see what You've done for us in order to be saved, from both physical and spiritual perspectives. Help us not to be so selfish and self-absorbed on what's happened to us that we miss out on the opportunity to reach down to pull someone who needs help up to where You've brought us. Guide us, O God. Strengthen us. Remove the stumbling blocks. In Jesus' name, I pray. Amen.

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Jessica Reedy- Where He Leads Me
Travis Greene- Intentional