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Group Hugs and Abiding Hope

January 22, 2013

Sibling relationships are complex from the minute the older child is presented with the precious little bundle that “the stork brought.” (Says nobody ever anymore.)

found on Pinterst - original source unknown

found on Pinterst – original source unknown

This relational complexity only multiplies as siblings grow up; the more shared history, the more multi-faceted the relationships are. And, let’s be straightforward – family connections are not simple. Sometimes they are well-tended and bring great encouragement. And sometimes they are neglected and, well, difficult. When I read the story of brothers in Genesis this morning, my mind didn’t settle on psychological theory or inter-relational principles, though.

What I read brought me to HOPE.

It caused me to rest in a strong, redemptive hope. How I needed the reinforcement of the story of Joseph and the way he tested his brothers!

The brothers had given words of family comradeship. But Joseph was wise not to take their seeming familial care at face value. They had come and gone from Joseph’s Egyptian kingdom once already – and they had kept their word, by returning with his younger brother. But his shared history with them had been filled with deep treachery and cold-hearted betrayal which he could not dismiss without overwhelming evidence. He was wise to withhold judgment until He could watch their lives to see if they had the capacity to give and receive costly love.

He needed to see if they could treat the treasure of forgiveness with respect.

And when he tested them, what did he see?!? It was more than a bond initiated by hunger or long journey. Their response to this orchestrated crisis was more than a get-out-of trouble scheme. More than a we’re-good-guys-now charade. More than a group hug under duress.

He saw the very men who had brought heart breaking deception to their father and abandoned him to slave traders react with a mighty reversal of response. In the heat of the testing, they showed compassion for their father and “Take me, not him” loyalty for their brother.

 

Something had turned them right side out. Rather, SOMEONE had turned them right side out. Just as Joseph was a different man than the man who had come in chains to Egypt – because of God’s powerful and loving transformation. The brothers were different now. God had been transforming them, too.

As Joseph pursued the exploration of their character, he had hope that God would have done this transformation in his brothers. So when he had evidence that this heart work had been done by God, he embraced God’s work – and his brothers.

“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….But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance. You shall… be near me … I will provide for you … ” Genesis 45:5-11

 

God didn’t give us this narrative just so we’d have a grand story to tell children at bedtime. This slice of historic reality has been preserved for us, in a grown-up world, to reinforce our hope. Seeing this demonstration of God at work in complex relationships (And not just about sibling relationships.) brings our focus back to who our God is.

He redeems, restores, renews, rebuilds, reconciles.

He transforms affections, converts intentions, exchanges motivations.

I’m asking God to turn my heart towards deep, abiding hope so that I am ready to embrace the heart work that He is bringing to pass.

One Comment leave one →
  1. January 25, 2013 12:39 pm

    That. picture. Wow 🙂 I love it.

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