“Now Joseph was the ruler over the land; he was the one who sold to all the people of the land. And Joseph’s brothers came and bowed down to him with their faces to the ground.” Genesis 42:6 New American Standard Bible
Deja Vu. How often have you heard someone quote, “Fact is stranger than fiction,” or maybe you’ve had an experience that left you puzzled, with an intense feeling your history was repeating? Internally, flags were waving, whistles blowing, alarms sounding, fireworks exploding demanding your attention! It’s as if your mind had gone into red alert mode, sending a warning or at least telling you, “Hey, haven’t we been here before? Haven’t we done this before? I know we’ve seen this place before!” Yet you know without any doubt you have neither been, done, seen, whatever it is that has jumped started your memory police! As we all know, this is referred to as deja vu.
1a : the illusion of remembering scenes and events when experienced for the first time
b: a feeling that one has seen or heard something before
2: something overly or unpleasantly familiar
The severity of the famine in Egypt and the surrounding nations proved the reality and accuracy of Gods warning to Pharaoh. God’s revelation of the warning through Joseph had been followed by the wisdom of Pharaoh in choosing Joseph as his Second in Command. Well, actually, it was Pharaoh co-operating with the God’s plans, and not only for Joseph and his family. The circumstances orchestrated by God had and have impacts reaching into the depths of eternity! In the dynamics revealed through Joseph’s family drama (drama we would all rather escape in dealing with our families) and wilderness with God, God reveals His passion for restoration, His intimacy in that restoration, and the subtlety of His Love constantly working for us, through us, and in us.
“When Joseph saw his bothers he recognized them, but he disguised himself to them and spoke to them harshly. And he said to them, ‘Where have you come from?’ And they said, ‘From the land of Canaan to buy food.’ ” Genesis 42:7 New American Standard Bible
It seems to me one of the most difficult situations faced by humankind is coming face to face with those who sought to destroy your life, reputation, and have manipulated circumstances which caused pain personally and to your family. I would imagine everyone has at least one relationship that falls under the heading, “My God, My God why have you forsaken me?” Maybe it’s a friend, a member of the family, or someone from church, but all you know is you’ve been betrayed and left by the side of the Jericho Road to die. Left there, in circumstances orchestrated by trusted friends, comrades, those who claimed to honor and worship God with you!
What will you do; how will you respond? I know what my first instinct would have been; I pray it is no longer my first instinct. Even writing these words I can feel my blood pressure rising, a surge of adrenalin, the bile of bitterness seeking to work its way into my mouth! Maybe the Deja Vu we experience at times comes from attitudes we have carried concerning unjust treatment, and how we sometimes long to respond.
When someone causes us pain, or causes pain to those we love, there may be a longing to make that person FEEL our pain, to make them FEEL the pain of our loved one. There are a couple of problems with that thinking. First, no one else can feel you pain, they can feel their pain, but never will they ever feel yours. As one who claims to be in relationship with God through Jesus, it is my responsibility to forgive, period! We all know forgiveness is what God asks of us, but it is also what He will accomplish, because I am absolutely unable to do it on my own! Without the intervention of my Heavenly Father, Jesus my Elder Brother, and the Holy Spirit my Comforter, all that is left to me in refusing to forgive is a life filled with bitterness that destroys completely. You may ask how I know this. I know this because God each day God is bringing healing into my life so I can forgive those who delivered death to my doorstep.
Remember Joseph, the seventeen year-old with the coat of many colors? Remember the “Dreamer” boasting to his brothers the dreams which showed Joseph’s family bowing down to him? Jacob wasn’t too thrilled with his favorite son’s dreams, and Jacob probably didn’t think announcing it to the elder brothers was Joseph’s wisest choice! Seventeen years later it is Deja Vu; except this time it is reality.
You are Joseph; what will you do? How will you respond to those who sold you into hell? But you’re not in Hell anymore, and maybe you never were. C. S. Lewis, in his book “The Great Divorce,” puts forth an interesting thought which goes something like this: When all is said and done, those who find themselves in Heaven will realize they were always in Heaven. And those who wind up in Hell will make the startling discovery they were always in Hell.
When God declares He has plans for us, and then life hurts us and bad things happen, when we lose love, life, friends, relationships, and trust, where is God’s plan? Where is God’s plan when all comes crashing down on our heads?
Is it possible we underestimate the influence our lives have as God is accomplishing His plan? God’s plans are about time without boundaries! His plans are not locked into the past, present, or future. Gods plans and time are fluid, completely unhindered by us.
As Joseph sat on his throne looking down at the brothers who sold him into slavery, his thoughts must have exploded into emotions which threatened to overwhelm him. He must have wondered what his brothers were like all these years later? Had there been any change? Was his father still alive? What about Benjamin? There he sat, the Egyptian Head of State with the power and authority to have the ten men, his brothers, executed on the spot.
Imagine Joseph as this incredibly powerful man, all the while wanting news of family and home, and wanting to share his own news of family and home. Yet all this had to wait. There were important matters to clear, characters to probe and examine. The real story of Joseph and Egypt is about to be revealed before our very eyes! It is a story meant for the Ages, meant for Eternity, to encourage those who seek Jesus and real life as it is found in Him.
As I move through each day with its joys, sorrows, losses, gains, fears, victories, defeats, understandings, confusions, etc., I recognize my need for God. I recognize I am unable to forgive and to even want to forgive those who have caused me and my family so much pain. However, God has declared forgiveness is not an option, it is not something His children can choose to “take it or leave it!” The act of Forgiveness, the willingness to forgive is one of the characteristics inherent in those who are disciples of Jesus Christ.
The God who knows each of His children so intimately brings into our lives the process of Grace. This process of growth in Grace is creating in us the willingness that allows God complete access to every nook and cranny, every tiny crack in our lives. God’s Grace in my Process leads me to desire to honor God in everything, in everyday, in every way, in every moment, knowing the Holy Spirit working in me makes it all possible. Ah, sweet Deja Vu, we’ve been down this holy pathway before.
“And I am sure that God who began the good work within you will keep right on helping you grow in his grace until his task within you is finally finished on that day when Jesus Christ returns.” Philippians 1:6 Living Bible