Scars of Life - Part 2 — Morning Devotions – Hope 103.2

Scars of Life – Part 2 — Morning Devotions

Some of us cannot forgive those who have hurt us; we nurture our wounds. But with God's help, we can focus on transformation, not retaliation.

Listen: Chris Witts presents Morning Devotions.

By Chris WittsMonday 3 Jan 2022Morning Devotions with Chris WittsDevotionsReading Time: 4 minutes

In this part we continue looking at the inner scars we carry. Life has a way of dishing out some unpleasant things, and it’s easy to become disillusioned and dejected, and feel a sense of failure. I said in Part 1 that physical scars are easier to deal with—go to the doctor and get fixed up and eventually the scar will heal. But what about the inner scars?

I want to think for a moment about someone we meet in the Bible. His name was Joseph, a great man of faith and integrity we read about in the Old Testament. He was a young son of Jacob, one of 11 sons. His life story in Genesis 37 to 50 is one of the most amazing stories in the Bible. It has lots of drama and tragedy, but also faith, hope, success and joy. But in chapter 45 we meet a broken Joseph carrying a deep inner scar, a tragic scar. He was not the youngest son, but he was his father’s favourite, and the brothers hated him for this. He even told them of a dream about his superiority.

A man with a deep inner scar

He was the chosen one, and his brothers had enough and plotted against him. They despised him. His 10 older brothers sold him to some slave traders and told their father he had been killed by an animal. Imagine the trauma Joseph went through—probably a teenage boy—as he recalled those terrible years of rejection, and for decades he lived with this painful memory. I guess there is no greater rejection than your family turning their back on you. In fact, all of the members of this family were wounded and scarred from that incident so long ago. The brothers had watched their father grieve over the death of his son. They bore their terrible secret all these years.

But now a severe famine has gripped the entire area, including Egypt. But Egypt was saved from the ravages of the famine thanks to the wise administration of Joseph who had risen to power because he had rightly interpreted the Pharaoh’s dream about the famine—it was an amazing story of a big turnaround for a young man. Now Egypt had become the breadbasket for the world. Among those who came to Egypt to purchase grain were Joseph’s brothers, who did not recognise him. It had been decades since they had sold that younger brother into slavery in a fit of jealousy.

If ever there were one with reason to hold a grudge, it would be Joseph. And now he has in his power the very brothers who so took advantage of his youth. It was the perfect opportunity to attempt to avenge the wrong done to him. Instead, the Bible tells us that Joseph and his brothers reconciled. Through a series of tests, Joseph discovers that his brothers have become men of honour and compassion. And finally, Joseph reveals himself as their own flesh and blood, their brother. And Genesis 45:15 says, “Joseph was still crying as he kissed each of his other brothers. After this they started talking with Joseph”.

Focus on transformation, not retaliation

Many of us can identify with the kind of wounds that Joseph had, but our wounds just don’t seem to heal. Some of us nurture our wounds. We pick at them so that they won’t heal. Some of us cannot forgive those who have hurt us. Some of us cannot forget the pain and humiliation. Some of us refuse to let go of old hurts. But not Joseph! How does he do it? How did he manage to heal such a terrible wound and seek reconciliation?

Joseph focused on God’s power instead of his pain. Looking back over his life, he sees that God has managed in a truly mysterious way to bring good out of evil, using even the terrible act of his jealous brothers to put him eventually in this important position in the land of Egypt. Joseph says to his brothers:

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Yes, I am your brother Joseph, the one you sold into Egypt. Don’t worry or blame yourselves for what you did… God is the one who sent me ahead of you to save lives.

God sent me on ahead of you to keep your families alive and to save you in this wonderful way. (Genesis 45:4-7 – CEV)

Do you notice how Joseph focused on God’s love instead of his brothers’ hatred. Instead of looking at the cruel, heartless and hateful act on the part of his brothers, Joseph looks at the graceful, heartfelt and loving act on the part of God, a God who wanted Joseph to prosper and save his family from famine. It is only God who brings healing. Joseph said, “You tried to harm me, but God made it turn out for the best, so that he could save all these people, as he is now doing”. (Genesis 50:20 – CEV)

Joseph focused on transformation instead of retaliation. One thing that both the Old and the New Testaments teach us is that God has the power to transform human evil into divine good. God used the slavery of Joseph to save a family. In the New Testament, God transforms the death of Jesus into the salvation of the world.

Do you know that Jesus was scarred too? John 20 describes his resurrection appearance before the disciples where he showed them his scars. Like Joseph, Jesus had scars from his life experience. And God also transformed Jesus’ scars into reconciliation, but this time it was the reconciliation of the world to God.

When Jesus rose from the dead, he could have chosen a body without the scars, but he didn’t. Jesus was proud of his scars. It is by his wounds that we are healed.