I know some people who love family reunions. They get together every year, go to a fun or favorite place, get T-shirts made, play horseshoes and washers and dominoes, eat a lot and catch up with their cousins. I know people who love class reunions where you see people you knew back then (however long ago back then was). Again a chance to catch up with one another’s lives, share some laughs, enjoy!
But my experiences with reunions haven’t always been so great. Sometimes, especially as a kid, I felt like I was being forced to go and see people that may have been relatives, but I didn’t know them. They knew each other and talked about old times and I just wanted to get through it and not have my cheeks pinched or get paraded around. And sometimes I enjoy high school reunions and other times I watch the same people who loved getting drunk in high school still getting drunk and the same guy who was hitting on a certain girl still hitting on that same girl.
I think Joseph felt more like that second category of reunion attendee in Genesis 42. Yes, he had Manasseh, and God had helped him forget all his past troubles … until his past troubles in the form of his brothers who sold him into slavery showed up in need of food. I can’t imagine the flood of emotions going through Joseph’s heart and mind as he looked upon his brothers. Tears of joy and sorrow, questions of how his father was doing and his younger brother. Probably wondering if his brothers had changed, if they had matured, if they felt any remorse for what they did to him so many years ago.
From this point on Joseph has choices to make just as you and I do when we are faced with these moments. Do we live into the forgiveness that God has offered or do we allow the wounds to resurface and drive our next decisions? Do we allow the love of God to flow through us or do we shut off that valve and deny the other the grace which God has for them as well? I pray that as we get reunited with people and memories and circumstances which caused us harm or remind us of the hurts we experienced that we will lean more into the strength of the Lord than in our own feelings. And may the witness of our responses draw others closer to the heart of God.
Easy … Not always. But these moments provide incredible opportunities to express the radical love of Christ!
In the grip of His grace!